I have a Serbian girlfriend who I have visited in Belgrade 4 times now and she is planning a trip to the UK for her 2 weeks vacation in 2 months from now (more details here).
When applying for this visa she must state the main reason for her visit, which is for her to see me and stay with me, also some travel to meet my friends and family etc. Thus, she must also state her relationship to me.
However, various people who have some experience of/heard stories about UK visa applications for such reasons are constantly telling us that we should never mention that I am her boyfriend or that she is my girlfriend, as she may then be refused. However, we plan to marry after my divorce (in process) is completed in 3-4 months time, so I do not under any circumstances wish to be deceptive so as to risk jeopardising our subsequent application for her to come here on a fiancée/marriage visa, as I read about here.
Do the “rumours” hold any truth? Should we do as I suggest and declare that we are boyfriend/girlfriend? Is there anything specific we should be aware of to document and declare about our releationship for the initial Standard Visitor visa?
First of all, I applaud your resolve to be truthful in the application. Definitely tell the truth.
Having said that, visiting a boyfriend or girlfriend can indeed be a bit of a red flag to immigration, though it is not an insurmountable one.
The key parts to successfully getting a visitor visa are convincing the officer reviewing the application that the person applying does indeed intend to come only as a visitor and that they have both the means to support themselves during their stay and both the means and intent to go home after their stay in the country.
What the immigration officer will be evaluating is whether your girlfriend is really just coming for a visit or whether she intends to stay in the UK with you and is trying to use the visitor visa to circumvent the normal immigrant visa requirements.
So, her application should definitely state her real purpose for the trip, but it should also supply any available information regarding ties she has to Serbia that will help demonstrate that she does, in fact, intend to go home after the visit. Owning or having a long-term rental agreement in place on her residence in Serbia will help with this. Having a job in Serbia will help with this. Family connections and other similar things tying her to Serbia will help with this. Any of that sort of information that she can supply with the application will help her case to demonstrate that she does intend to go home after the trip.