Around the World in 180 Days

A journey across the Atlantic and into matrimony

This Is What I Know September 15, 2009

Filed under: the process — rhet @ 7:56 am
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I was asked on a forum about what my fiance visa process was like, and thought ‘oh! thats why I started my blog! to explain the process! i’ll just point her to a post to read..’ and went diggin. But as I was looking, I realized that my posts were more story than information. Whoops. So, this post aims to remedy that! (Hopefully I can remember all the steps, it was a few months ago..)

THE DOCUMENTS:

Start gathering these as soon as possible, the more of this stuff you have before beginning your application the better. Not knowing all of the stuff I’d need and then having to get them asap was what took the most time and was the most stressful part of the process for me.

1. Bank Statements: proof that you have enough money to support yourselves without government assistance. I was told you needed to at very least be able to cover several months worth of your current expenses. The most current 3 months worth of bank statements from both the person applying for the visa and the UK citizen sponsoring them is required.

2. A Place to Live: best possible scenario is a lease with both your names on it. Not an easy feat when you’re not in the same country but not impossible as the boy and i were able to manage it by the magic of scanners and email. my legal advisor told me that they use a sort of ‘home is where the heart is’ sort of mentality, proving that you’ll have a place to live is crucial and it would seem that staying with relatives or your sponsors parents is frowned upon.

3. Proof of Intent to Marry: on a fiance visa, you’ll need to be married within 6 months of being in the UK. I was shocked that they expected me to have this stuff given that when i started the application process, my wedding date was nearly a year away. But they did. So buy your wedding invitations, pick out a location for the ceremony and book it, hire a preacher/officiant/whatever, keep your reciept for engagement/wedding rings, reciept for wedding dress, etc etc. DO IT NOW! This stuff takes forever to get done (especially from acros the pond) and was my biggest hangup in getting my application finished.

4. Proof of Relationship: you’ll need to prove that your relationship is real, that you have in fact met eachother in person. Luckily, I was aware of this early on and collected photos, a lease together, ticket stubs from trips we’d taken together, and anything else I thought could help. The only thing they like to see and I didn’t have was a joint bank account.

5. Certified Copy of Sponsor’s Passport: this is easy, just go to the UK equivalent of a notary public and have them make a certified copy of his/her passport.

6.Sponsor Letter from UK Fiance: they’ll ask your fiance to write a letter telling his/her story about how you met, what your plan for the future is as a couple, where you plan to live, and how you plan to support yourselves.

7. Questionnaire: this is the part where they ask you your name, SSN, if you’ve ever been involved in terrorist activity..you know, the basics.

THE STEPS

1.Get Yerself a Lawyer: its not cheap, but its quite nice to have someone to tell you exactly what to do and can answer your questions. plus, i’ve been told and read that once denied a visa, its very difficult and costly to obtain one after that. so we chose not to take any risks with some sort of clerical or paperwork error that could cause a lot more problems in the future. I used a company called Global Visas, whom I would definitely recommend. They have an office in the US so you don’t need to make an international call to talk to a real person. Plus they asked a lot of questions about our circumstances to make sure they thought I had a very good chance of being awarded a visa, which was reassuring. No one likes dishing out a bunch of cash to people who know you won’t win anyway.

2.Fill Out Questionnaire and Procure Necessary Documents: Global Visas’ website has a client section that you log into and upload your documents to them from there for review. Once all of my documents were uploaded, my advisor reviewed them all, tweaked some of my questionnaire answers and then went into the UK Border Agency website and filled out my online application for me.

3. Biometric Appointment: once your online application is complete and you’ve checked over the information a million times to make sure its correct, then you pay the UK’s visa application fee and some sort of tax? I was never really clear on what the second fee was for but if i recall, it came to about $1,700 USD total. ouch. the things we do for love. anway, after you’ve paid you’ll make an appointment to have your biometric data collected in the center nearest you. At this point, the website will also tell you which Consulate office you’ll need to send your application packet off to.

4.Send off Application Packet: after your biometric appointment, you’ll be as ready as you ever will to send off those documents you poured your blood sweat and tears into. You must send off originals of everything. Make a list and double triple quadruple check that everything you need is in that envelope before you send it off.

And thats it! Once they recieve and open your packet, they’ll send you a confimation email. The next email you recieve will let you know that a decision has been made and a UPS tracking number for your package.

RANDOM TIPS:

1. You will need originals copies of every document! Also, I don’t particularly trust the Consolate to return my documents so i made personal copies of everything that was important and would suggest you do the same.

2. Applying for a visa in the summer months takes much longer than average because its such a busy time for them! Also keep in mind you may need to wait a week or more until there is an appointment at your local biometric office available. GIVE YOURSELF LOTS OF TIME! I made the mistake of counting my eggs before they hatched, buying my plane ticket to the UK before my visa arrived, figuring I’d save myself some money by buying it early. oho no. I’ve now spent hundreds on changing the date on my ticket because the papers didnt come when I expected.

3. You need to send your passport in your application packet, so don’t plan on going out of the country at all while you wait for your visa to arrive.

4. There is no way of checking the status of a visa unless its been longer than 60 business days. believe me i’ve tried.

5. You won’t be able to get a job (legally) on a fiance visa until you’re married. make sure to plan for that financially.

6. try to get your fiance in the UK to send original copies of documents from the UK as soon as possible. this way you’re not waiting to send your application to the consolate even though your biometric appointment is done. international mail can be very slow and unreliable at times.

6. i was going to put something here but i forget what. its 3:30am, gimme some slack. (if i think of it, or anything else noteworthy, i’ll add it here later)

TIMELINE:

my personal timeline went something like this

May 12th- case initiated, signed legal papers saying I would pay the agreed fees ($1200) and not give away all their legal advice on my personal blog.

May 20th- consultation with advisor, was informed of all the paperwork i’d need.

June 26th- finally finished said mounds of paperwork, advisor submitted online application to UK, printed all the necessary forms and sent everything to Brit Consolate via overnight mail the next morning.

July 10th- recieved email from Consolate in LA confirming that they’d just now opened my packet. They gave me a 40-45 business day estimate of when they’d reach a decision.

Today- its been 46 days and no word back yet. those bastards.

I wish any other hopeless romantic following their heart to a foreign land lots of luck, patience, organization and a partner worth going through all this hulabaloo for!

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