How does the UK visitor visa work when I come and go multiple times a year?

Hey Nomads, I run a subscription site in the gaming industry (Magic: The Gathering to be exact) and I have a number of friends in the UK that I like to visit frequently. I’m American, so I can get a 6-month visa just by showing up at the border.

I’m 2 months into a 3 month stay here, and I just found out that I need to come back about a month after I leave.

My question is, how is the 6-month period calculated? My assumption was that I cannot spend more than 6 months in any given 12-month period in the UK on my visa. I am asking because I intend to come back to the UK after spending the winter somewhere…warmer :slight_smile:

I’m trying to sort out whether I can come back in early 2017, as I have work obligations in Ireland in February and would love to piggyback onto that trip.

Does anyone have experience with this visa and comings-and-goings? I don’t want to risk screwing up and getting in trouble and jeopardizing my ability to enter the UK in the future, so I’d like to get some proper guidance on this.

honestly, just by spending 3 months there then coming back soon and spending more time, you’re already going to be throwing up red flags. I’m to the point where I’m considering avoiding the UK all together after my last couple entries. They’re a giant pain in the ass. And with the brexit stuff now it’s just going to get worse probably. I would not make any plans that are reliant upon you getting long-term entry. My last stamp in was for exiting on a specific date significantly shorter than the standard 6 months and if I over stay it I’m fucked. And getting even that took almost an hour of conversation plus onward tickets leaving the UK and returning to the USA. So, that doesn’t answer your question, but just beware, if you have a non traditional travel pattern, which you do, the UK is getting harder and harder to enter.

Thanks for the reply. I’m not as concerned with “hassle” at the border, as I am concerned with the actual rules and regulations required to be in compliance.

When I got here, border control grilled me for an hour. I now have a “special” stamp in my PP that indicates as such. Ultimately, they ascertained I was not trying to move to the UK (and explained that they don’t care who comes in, only that you’ll go home again). These were the words of Gatwick’s chief immigration inspector.

Shortly thereafter, I had to go to Spain for a long weekend. On my return, the border agent at Luton told me about the special stamp, and he asked if they had required me to answer extra questions.

I told him that, yes they did. He asked if I had answered the questions to their satisfaction, and I told him I did. He asked if I had enough money to support myself while I was here, and I told him yes I did. He asked how much money was in my bank account, and I told him how much was in my personal, and how much was in my business account as well.

That seemed to satisfy him, and the whole thing took less than 5 minutes the second time.

So, I am not too worried about getting stopped and questioned, since I’ve handled it fine before, I really just need to understand the law so I’m not accidentally overstaying my visa.

I stayed last year 3 months in the UK and left in october. Now i’m coming back in mid July. I’m pretty sure they will give me a hard time, but just in case i will enter through Paris which i think it might be “easier”. I will update this thread with the outcome.

By the way, the US is the same. Too many trips close to each other and they might stamp you in for a shorter duration or take you for secondary inspection. Last time in the US they specifically asked me “when did you last go back to your country of residence” and then stamped me in for just 1 month vs the usual 6. I was just staying for 2 days (it was a transit stop…) but still… US and UK borders are kind of a pain to deal with in general.


I was able to get into the UK. The UK border officer made the following questions:

  • Purpose of trip
  • Where are you staying and for how long
  • Who is the person you are staying with?
  • Do you have an onward ticket, please show it
  • How can you travel for so long?

I was not questioned about money or finances though and also the officer didnt mention why i stayed 3 months last year. The onward ticket was enough. My passport was stamped for staying up to 6 months again :slight_smile:

Thanks for the reply Oskar. May I ask how you answered his questions? Here is what I would be inclined to say:

  1. Holiday
  2. At my friend’s flat for 3 months
  3. An old friend.
  4. Yes, here is my ticket to [somewhere in the EU in 3 months]
  5. I own a business in the states that allows me significant holiday time.

How do these sound?

I said:

  1. Tourism , visiting friends
  2. Staying at a friend’s flat until September Xth. (not sure yet if i will leave by that date though)
  3. Friend i met in london a couple of years ago
    4)Yes, here is my ryanair ticket to european city 15 pounds lol
  4. I had accumulated vacations time. (i couldnt say i own business because i dont, and i had no proof)

keep in mind i came through paris eurostar, which i think security is a bit more “relaxed” than heathrow for example. Also i have a south american third world passport, that although is pretty powerful it raises more red alerts when saying
"i’m staying for longer than a month in london!" :slight_smile:

Cheers, thanks. I think my answers are close enough to yours that I won’t have an issue (though I am worried they’re going to see that I came for 3 months, left for 2 weeks, then came back again for 3 months, and that would look dodgy…)

Yep. I stayed 3 months last year until october, but i didnt want to come back again soon. So i deciced to come in july to avoid that problem. I would advise you to print a bank statement and onward ticket. Both two would shut any more questions…
Let me know when you are here its always good to meet other fellow nomads!

I’m here now, until Monday. Then I fly back to the States for a few weeks. I probably don’t have time to meet up this time round, but when I’m back I’ll give you a shout.

What’s your work that allows you to travel / work remotely?

No problem. I work as a systems administrator. I can do my job remotely until AI and robots take over :slight_smile: