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UKSolicitorJA, Solicitor
Category: Immigration Law
Satisfied Customers: 4312
Experience:  English solicitor with over 12 years experience
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I am an Irish citizen who has lived in the UK most of my life.

Customer Question

I am an Irish citizen who has lived in the UK most of my life. In 2007 after living in an African country for four years I came back to the UK with my new wife who comes from Africa.
I first visited my country of birth Ireland because it was easier to get a spouse visa to Ireland than having to try and get it from the UK embassy.
My wife also had a visa to enter France because a transit visa was required.
I had little money when I arrived in Ireland as I had been defrauded of a sizable amount of money while living in Africa.
I made the mistake of travelling by ship to UK from Ireland without finding out if my wife needed any type of visa to enter UK
I was led to believe by two policemen in Paris that Ireland and UK had a similar system in place as the Schengen visa system.
She has now been living in the UK since then with no proper status all because I made an error and was afraid that I would lose my wife should I disclose to the authorities that she was living in the UK.
We have a son who is now eleven. He was born in Africa and travelled with us in 2007.
He is also a citizen of Ireland. I have been told recently by the police here in the UK that my wife can get British citizenship since she has lived here for eight years. I do hope this is true as my wife has not had the life she was expecting since she arrived here in 2007 all because of my mistake in thinking that we would have no problem.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Immigration Law
Expert:  UKSolicitorJA replied 2 years ago.
What have you been doing in the UK since 2007?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

At the moment I am working self-employed prior to that I was working for an employer until February 2015.

My wife has never worked since she arrived in the UK in any capacity.

I would have got a visa directly from The British Embassy in Lusaka Zambia, to the UK, if it were not for the fact that the British embassy staff were not differentiating between an EU citizen married to a non Eu citizen and a citizen of Zambia, just applying for an ordinary visa on their own.

I had no bother getting the visa to France at the French Embassy in Gaborone, which allowed my wife to leave the airport in Paris and stay in France for a week if we wanted.

The French embassy staff told me that they were instructed to give priority to any EU citizen married to a non EU citizen, when they were applying for a Spouse visa.

As I said when I travelled across the Irish Sea, I was unaware that I needed any entry visa for my wife. My problem would never have occurred if the staff on either side of the crossing told my wife that I needed a visa.

Furthermore, even when I checked afterwards regarding the need for a visa entry, I could not find any answer to my question.

I believed at the time that I could have got my wife post nuptial citizenship in time from the Irish authorities, but some months after arriving in the UK I discovered that that option had been done away with by the Irish Government.

I had considered travelling back to Ireland with my wife and son on many occasions to put things right, but was worried that I would in some way lose my wife and that my son would lose his mother. I was told that no husband or wife of a EU citizen hand ever been deported on grounds of wrongful entry or overstaying, providing the marriage was genuine; but even that information did not rush me to risk losing my wife.

Finally, my wife's visa was still valid in Ireland when we crossed over to the UK in 2007.

Expert:  UKSolicitorJA replied 2 years ago.
Thank you.

The good news is that you have been exercising treaty rights in the UK as you have been working since 2007. What is important is the fact that your wife has been residing with you in the UK since 2007.

It is not important that your wife did not have proper authorisation to enter the UK in 2007, the fact that you both got in and are living here since then is important.

Your wife is an automatic permanent resident of the UK and eligible to apply for British Citizenship as advised by the police.

I would suggest that your wife apply for naturalisation as a British Citizen provided she passes the Life in the UK test and English language requirements. See here for the process:

Hope this helps