Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Taylor Expatriates - Guest Post

When I started drafting this intro, I wrote that Taylor has only recently expatriated to the UK - but that's not true anymore!  Time flies when you're having fun, I guess, and you can tell from her blog that Taylor's been having the best time in England (although the weather doesn't compare to her native south Florida's heat and sun).  Since last summer, Taylor has moved across the pond, ran her first half-marathon, and gotten married to her handsome English man... and successfully navigated two visa processes.  She's here today to tell us about the first: the Fiancé(e) Visa to come to the UK.  Thank you, Taylor, for stopping by!

Hello friends of Betsy! My name is Taylor.

Like a lot of you lovely readers, I’m an anglophile. I’m an American who is fully British at heart. I knew one day I was going to live in England. I just knew it. Let’s ignore the fact that I didn’t even own a passport during these optimistic dreamer years. I was going to live in England. And that was that.

In 2009 I started dating a lovely man with a British accent! Typical Taylor, being wooed over his use of words like “uni” and “crumpets”. It didn’t matter that he lived in England and I lived in America. We would make it work!  After 3 years of a transcontinental long distance relationship, we finally got engaged and were about to have our happily ever after! I was going to move to England (see, I told you I would!) and we were going to start our life together. Finally.  Well, I’m here to tell you that one thing stands in your way of having your happily ever after. It’s called the “UK Border Agency”.

I’m also here to tell you that you that it’s possible. It’s hard work and takes a lot of patience, but it is possible.  If you are in my same position, you will need the Fiancé(e) Visa. Basically, you and your partner are engaged and are planning on getting married soon (soon = about 6 months). But here’s the catch: you can’t work in England under the Fiancé(e) Visa, and the visa itself requires a lot of preparation.

I wish I could tell you that the process of getting this visa included learning the difference between a cookie and a biscuit and also singing some English football chants. If that was the case, I’d be a shoe-in! Unfortunately, it’s a bit more complicated than that.

There are two main steps you need to know about in order to apply for the Fiancé(e) Visa: the application and the evidence. The application is very self explanatory and extremely detailed. They ask about you, your partner (which in this case they call your “sponsor”), your parents, your partner’s parents, jobs, trips, incomes, bank accounts, anything and everything! You also need to have a date in mind for which you want to move. Here’s the important part: If your visa gets approved, you have 6 months from that date you put in the application to get married.

For example, I filled out my application in June but I put September 3 as my potential date of entry into the UK. So after my Fiancé(e) Visa was approved, it was valid between September 3 and March 3. (I ended up moving to England in October). In that span of 6 months, we had to get married.

While filling out the application, you pay the full amount of the visa (over $1000) and also set a date to go to an immigration office to get your biometrics taken (fingerprints and some lovely glamour shots of your face! I mean, they are glamorous, if you consider DMV or passport photos glamorous….) Once the application is finished, you basically need to prove your relationship and its legitimacy. I thought it sounded ridiculous that I had to prove my relationship. I mean, I was willing to trade South Florida for the south of England… Wasn’t that proof enough that I loved this guy?!

There is a hefty list of requirements that you need to send to the UK Border Agency office in New York that shows that you and your sponsor are in fact a couple and that you have the resources to move to and remain in the UK without government aid. Here is my (not-so) short list of what I included in my package to the UK Border Agency:

Skype records, Facebook records, my previous flight details to see him, his previous flight details to see me, details of us traveling together, letters from our family members saying they've met me/him, photos, photocopies of cards/letters to each other, my bank statements, his bank statements, my previous pay slips, his previous pay slips, picture of engagement ring with receipt (to prove we're actually engaged), information of our prospective wedding venue, proof of his residence in the UK (mortgage, council tax bill, photos) his employment contract, his work history, my work history, copy of my birth certificate, copy of his birth certificate, copy of my driver’s license, copy of my social security card, copy of my passport ID page, 2 recent passport pictures, and that’s just what I can think of off the top of my head. I also included a table of continents first to list everything that was included, as well as including title pages for each item so there was no confusion.

I know it sounds daunting. But when you take the time to prepare as much as possible for the UK Border Agency, it makes their job so much easier which can only help your case! They email you when they open your package for review and then again once they’ve made their decision. And then you’re potentially on your way to the UK!

The best advice I can give you is to do your research. There are plenty of expat sites, forums, and bloggers out there who have either been through the process or can point you in the direction other helpful sites/people! Also prepare as much of the evidence and information as possible before you apply so you aren’t scrambling to get everything done by the deadlines.

Good luck on whatever traveling and expat adventures are ahead of you!


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  2. Yay! Thanks for letting me join you today, Betsy! Hope you are having an amazing time in England!

  3. it's the best - well, you know! thanks for the wonderful post :)

  4. Wowie, I had no idea you had to send UKBA pictures and receipt of the engagement ring to prove you were engaged!

  5. This is such helpful advice. I'm currently applying for my de facto visa in Australia and it's such a long and drawn out process! Letters from friends and family, fingerprints, photos, etc. Such a pain! I am lucky though as I'm already over here on a student visa meaning I'll be issued a bridging visa while the decision is pending which will allow me to work. Good luck in your adventures!

  6. SO MANY VISAS. so little time. yargh! good luck :)

  7. I doubt Jon even still has the receipt... good thing we're not going through this process! haha

  8. I remember having to go through a similar process 14 years ago when I married my husband and he moved from the UK to the US. Rigorous, but doable, and certainly worth it. ; )


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