Long distance relationships are mainly hard because of the distance. That’s been my experience anyways. But what happens when you get married and you want to take things to the next level? Surprisingly (or unsurprisingly to others), marriage doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to be in the same place. For my husband and I, we had to go through a rough process called the U.K spouse visa. I’ll tell you what made this rough but first, let me give you some of the details.
My now husband and I happened to meet by chance. Well, I guess it wasn’t entirely chance as we were both on a dating app with the hopes of meeting someone who was actually “nice.” Someone who was what they claimed to be and more. No tricks or gimmicks. We matched, had an exchange over message for a bit and eventually made plans to meet in person. You could call that chance though. A series of things had to happen for us to both be in the same radius and match with each other (I had to temporarily leave my job and go abroad and have a sister who lived near his parents who he had just moved back in with in order to save up some cash). So yeah, that’s chance!
Cut to lots of trips across the Atlantic for the both us over the course of roughly two years, when my husband decided to ask me to marry him. And as I said, we married in Central Park NYC and had a great day with close family until the anxiety set in. It wasn’t because I was regretting my decision, it was because of the long visa process ahead of us.
Applying For The Visa
There are two ways (according to my Google knowledge) to get married to a UK citizen as a US citizen.
- Fiancee visa – An american can apply for a fiancee visa that lets them into the UK for the purpose of marriage within 6 months. You can’t work on this visa so you need money stored up for this route. After marrying, you can swap/apply for the spouse visa where you’re given more “rights.”
- Spouse visa – Anyone can enter into the US to marry as long as they don’t have intent to stay, so no need for a fiancee visa (but if you plan to stay post marriage and earn a living, you will need one). My husband did not have plans to stay so once we were married, I had to go onto the UK Gov site and begin my application to apply as a spouse for the U.K. This must be done from your home country and you can’t do it in the UK on a tourist visa.
So I filled out what seemed like endless pages with logic styled questions that looked like it wanted to catch you in a lie you didn’t know you were telling. Stressful as heck.
I started feeling anxiety creep in around me as I went through the questionnaire, so I hopped on a message board for people “like me.” BIG MISTAKE.
Visa Message Boards
On the message boards I was met with people telling me that this was going to be hard and that I wouldn’t qualify. It sent me into a tailspin.
Why didn’t they think I would qualify? My husband was missing three pay slips and you needed six minimum to show that you earned a livable amount (according to the U.K spouse visa standards). This panic led me to call a lawyer that confirmed some of what the trolls on the message boards were saying was true. I did need all six and not having it would make my application likely fail. He didn’t have them because his place of work switched payroll systems and was a bit disorganized keeping the old slips but after consulting with a lawyer, we started pleading with the employers for more intel and tracked them (plus extra slips) down.
So What Do You Really Need?
The U.K gov site listed items it suggested you needed to get a spouse visa but there is a lot of fine print and generalizations on the page. Once again, random lawyer logic made to have you rubbing your chin and scratching your head when you’re already stressed. The real list of documents takes a bit more digging and included items like:
- Couple photos and wedding photos
- Couple conversations (Whatsapp, Gchat, Texts, Letters, Emails, etc)
- House accommodation letter – a letter saying where you’ll be living
- Deed or landlord letter – what proof do you have that details where you’re staying
- Employer contract of spouse (or yourself)
- Bank statements of spouse (six months worth) – must be certified
- Letter from employer of spouse – confirming they work there
- Six months of payslips of spouse (or yourself)
- Declaration of love
- Copy of marriage certificate
- Copy of your spouse’s passport
- P60 (or whatever that is called, a tax document)
Basically, your whole life and then some. It doesn’t end there though. They need money, lots of it. And to be honest, after printing out all the evidence, the application and paying for the application as well as other charges, the total came out to a little more than $3k – a lot of cheddar cheese. THIS did not include the lawyer fee.
What Are You Paying For?
- Visa application
- NHS insurance – Medical insurance you pay upfront which is ridiculous since you are taxed when you arrive and start working, meaning you pay double. You also pay this regardless of whether you get approved or denied. So silly.
- Biometrics appointment – This is to get your finger printing done
- Application shipping labels – Yes you must pay to ship your application their way. Well you don’t have to but it’s recommended
Do You Need a Lawyer?
We read that an unsuccessful application does not mean you get your money back. It just means you have to reapply and they keep your money. We couldn’t cope with this or take the chance so we hired a lawyer for additional cheddar to have our backs covered.
How Long Does It Take After You Mail Your Application?
When I was done with the application, I mailed it along with my passport to the U.K. This left me stuck and girl, that’s a whole other blog post that will explain what it means to have your passport poofed from your sight (this as well as the emotions of waiting are in the pipeline). They say waiting can take anytime from 2 – 12 weeks and me, the girl who met all the requirements, it took just about 10 weeks (48 business days from the receipt of the application).
This was traumatic but I can now let off a little stress as I have my visa and passport! I’m so thrilled that I will be able to join my husband and transition into the next phase of my life. It’s scary, it’s amazing, it’s a lot of emotions!
But that was the process, it took a long time. It messed with our heads. It took a bit of our monies. It did not process in the time that I would have hoped (I did do a non priority application but have been told priority applications take just as long but cost more). But things happen and you try to cope and live with it. I’m so excited as I said before and a bit more willing to open up now that fear of rejection has left me.
Stay tuned for more blogs on this topic and I hope that this is helpful or insightful to anyone who reads!