Exercising free movement, redux
Another post about someone's experience of exercising free movement in Europe, mirrored from here :
Earlier today : http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/exercising-free-movement-someones.html
1st May 2013, 10:37 PM
This post has two purposes: 1) to share our experience of entering UK as an EEA national and non-EEA spouse without a Permit, and 2) to request advice on the next steps.
First the report. The starting point was that I and my Japanese wife were living in Finland. I then accepted a job offer in the UK. There wasn't enough time to apply for a Family Permit for her, because the next available time at the mobile biometric clinic in Helsinki was beyond my job start date. So we decided to go for the "Code 1A" route described on this forum. We simply got on the plane with the following documentation at hand: i) my contract, ii) an extract from the Finnish population registry (official English translation) to prove our marriage, iii) a printed copy of the Border Force Operations Manual EEA Nationals (often quoted on this forum) and iv) a printed copy of the UKBA EEA family permits guidance.
Once arrived, my wife filled in a landing card, indicating that she intended to stay for a number of years (as a Japanese national she would normally be entitled to enter and remain for only six months without a visa). We approached the immigrations together and I simply said that I'm a Finnish national moving to UK to work and that this is my wife. The official checked her passport, noted the absence of a visa or Family Permit, and said that she "needs" one. I said that we didn't have time to apply for one and that we've understood that she could instead get a Code 1A stamp at the border. The official then excused himself and went away with the passport for about three minutes. When he got back, he said everything was ok and stamped the passport. He didn't ask for any documentation such as a marriage certificate at any point. But the stamp that she got is the same 6-month one as she would get when entering the UK as a tourist.
The whole business lasted perhaps five minutes and the official was very polite throughout. However, I wonder what would have happened if we hadn't asserted ourselves and specifically requested the Code 1A. Would he have insisted on a visa and sent her back? Or just eventually given her the Code 1A (i.e. tourist?) stamp? I'm guessing the latter actually. The fact that Japanese nationals can enter for 6 months without a visa perhaps made things easier for us than they are for those entering from visa countries.
As for the next steps, I had it all planned out based on what I've read on this forum before: Apply for EEA1 for me and EEA2 for her, both at the same time. However, this border official advised us that she should now apply for a Family Permit within UK. This confuses me. I thought the FP was only needed for getting into the country for in the first place, and that after that its usefulness would be limited. I thought that from now on, the residence card (EEA2) would be the thing that is needed for seeking employment, smoothing subsequent entries, etc. But the official flatly contradicted this, saying that the FP is what gives her EEA rights, establishes the permission work and so on, and that the residence card is not necessarily sufficient documentation for re-entry.
My suspicion is that the official perhaps didn't quite know what he was talking about, and that we should stick with the original plan and go for EEA1 and EEA2 now. But I'd like to hear your opinions -- should she go for EEA2 or FP? To make matters slightly more complicated, she needs to travel abroad for a few days in about 1.5 months from now, so she'd need to have her passport back by then.
View from the free world :