That firstly depends on where your girlfriend is from. If she is from one of the non-visa national countries i.e. USA, Canada and Australia she can come and visit you on a short term basis for up to six months. At port of entry, she will be asked many questions about her intention to leave at the end of the visit and will need to show that she has sufficient funds to support herself.
If she is from one of the countries which require a visa to enter the UK then it is more difficult. An application for a visit visa must be made at the British embassy in the country where they are resident. These applications are subject to much more scrutiny by embassy officials who decide who gets the visa. It should be noted that the application must be prepared very well, as there is no right of appeal against an adverse decision.
On a more long term basis there is no option for girlfriends to settle in the UK and it should be noted that there is no option to switch from, the visit category to a more permanent category from within the UK.
But don’t worry there are options available:
- Unmarried partner
This route is available to those who may have lived together outside of the UK for two years or more. An application for entry clearance must be made outside of the UK and the new financial requirement must be met.
If you want to get married in the UK, your fiancée can apply for a six months visa to enable you to contract your marriage here. Once married, you must make an application to vary her visa to that of a spouse. These applications are also subject to the new financial requirement as well as the tougher immigration rules.
If you choose to marry abroad an application must be submitted before your wife can return to the UK as your spouse. This is made via the British embassy where they are based and the same rules apply to both options above. If successful, your wife will be granted a 33 month visa.