What I love about travel is that you do not have to go far to see the world. You can visit the local sites in your area as a traveler with a new set of eyes. However, if you are going to be traveling to another country you will need to have your passport and possibly a visa. The matter furthers if you are planning on staying in another country for longer than the intended vacation stay. Every country is different and the rules are always changing. I recommend making sure you not only cross check the information you read in one location with another source, but double check to keep safe. I have been asked many times how it is that I my family is able to live in England, where we relocated to in 2011. Having been born in the UK before the rules of British status changed in 1983, I became a dual national (UK/USA). It was the upside of being born six weeks premature, and not close to my due date. My sons are also dual nationals because I am a UK citizen. However, if they want their children to have citizenship, they will have to be born in the UK as it will not grandfather or be passed down. I am very grateful for my parents choosing overseas assignments as a military family, it is the fact that I got dual nationality out of it that I feel most blessed.
My husband. We have been together twelve years this month. We have been married for 10 years this past August. We also have have two sons who are now nine and almost seven years old. Does any of that guarantee my husband a spousal visa? Sadly, no. You have to apply for it and the process has only become longer and more expensive in the UK in the last couple of years. However, I am getting a head of myself in telling you my husband’s visa saga properly.
My Husband’s Visa Saga
Visitor’s Visa | In 2011 my husband and I relocated from Hawaii, USA to England, UK. If you are coming to the UK for a short visit, which is under six months, you ‘generally do not need a visa’. There are other circumstances that would require one. My husband did not apply for a visitor’s visa. Although he did not have a return ticket my husband was enrolled to begin a masters at Sussex University and would be having a student visa. It took me maybe five minutes to walk through my line at immigration, show my UK passport, and then locate my our luggage. It took my husband much longer as we did not have the address to the hostel we were staying at initially. Luckily they finally let him through and were were finally in the UK together. No visa required for Ryan. Next plan is to get his student visa, find a more permanent place to live, and locate jobs before the school term begins.
Student Visa | This will sound very poorly planned and perhaps that is quite true. However what happened is also the truth. Which is why I stressed above about making sure you double check your sources when it comes to visas. In one location on the UK visa website a few years ago it appeared to say you could apply within the UK. I do not know if that was ever the case but I don’t believe it is the case now. You also cannot hop to another country as a tourist to apply. You must apply from within your home country. In the end Ryan did not apply for a student visa, but did end up having to get a return ticket to the US to apply for another visa.
Spouse Visa | While I found a room to rent and a job to keep me busy, Ryan was back stateside applying for his spouse visa. Luckily he was able to expedite the process and return to me in England before his classes begun that autumn. Back in 2011 his spouse visa would last two years and then he would be allowed to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain status (ILR).
As of July 2012, the regulations for the spouse visa and for applying for settlement has changed. Some of the biggest changes are as follows:
- A spouse visa will last for two and a half years
- You must have a certain amount of money in your bank account. This varies if children are involved. For example if it is just you it might be £18, 600 in your bank account. If you are coming with two children it would go up to £24,800 which is roughly $41,237 in US currency. Again make sure to research to check what numbers will apply to your situation.
- Before applying for settlement you must live in England for five years. This would mean applying and receiving two back to back spouse visas.
- Time spent outside the UK will be taken in account if not directly correlated to your job. You must have spent no more than 90 days outside the UK in the last 12 months of the last three years of the five.
Needless to say I am glad we did not wait any later to move to England because we would not be living here today had we tried to come after the immigration rule change of 2012. Unfortunately not everyone is that lucky and there are many families who have either had to leave the UK, or have been ripped apart.
Work Visa | My husband did not get a work visa but as I get questions about this I will address it. There are many people who are living and working in the UK under a work visa. However, they are not handed out like sweets. I am under the impression that for a company to give out a work visa for an employee, they have to prove that the job cannot be done by any person currently living in the UK. It would seem finding a job that could send you the the UK for work is far more practical than searching for a job that would hire you without a visa to work. Point in case is that very job application I have seen, has a notice on the bottom asking if I have the right to work within the UK. Much easier is applying for a student visa to come here to study. However you will need to notice the day that it expires and what regulations they have for students working in the UK while in school.
Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) | This is the final part of my husband’s visa saga. In October of 2012, my husband’s spousal visa expired and he went on to apply for his ILR. Anyone who was following me on twitter at that time will know that I was stressing a bit about the whole process. One wrong move or unchecked box that should have been checked and you have to start the the process all over again without a refund. It is not a cheap endeavor by any means. Without mention to child costs, for a spouse to apply you are looking at £1051 if you apply by post and £1426 if you are applying in person to expedite the process. In October Ryan sent off his application and needed documents. The one thing I had not planned on was having to send my UK passport with his paperwork. As I do not drive in the UK I had to use my US passport as my only form of identification. There was no ETA on when we could expect the process to be complete. They did say that they are backed up and it could take up to nine months. That also means we cannot leave the UK until everything is finalized.
In January my husband got paperwork in the post about going in for his biometrics (involves fingerprinting) for his residency permit for the ILR. After not hearing anything for the last few months we were hoping this meant we were closer to the end.
A month later and my husband gets some great news. Last week he was mailed back all his paperwork along with our passports. This weekend he got his residency card in the post. Which now means he can live and work in the UK indefinitely.
Becoming a Citizen | The residency card and ILR status will remain intact as long as we stay in England. If we move before he becomes a citizen he might have to apply all over again. To be honest we still do not know all the facts very clearly about this and so we are now researching it to understand better. I do not think the process is any more challenging from the ILR, except that it does cost more money towards the process of having the right to be a UK citizen. What I do know is as far as being outside of the UK, he cannot spend more than 270 days in a three year period nor more than 90 days in the last twelve months of that three year period. For now we will look at saving up for that while we rejoice in the fact that the UK visa experience is behind us.
Q: Have you applied for visas within the UK or have you been through the ILR process
as an expat?Share your experiences here!
Today I would like you to meet my featured sponsor for February here at ACR: Jillian Lorraine. I am a new follower of Jillian’s blog: Jillian Lorraine but I already feel like I have known her a long time. It is in the way that she writes where you feel like you are already instant friends, and not just reading posts from afar on a laptop screen. I recommend starting from the beginning from her very first post New Year, New Word, go from there and see what I mean.
I already feel connected to here as she is getting ready to finish her degree at the university my sister Zoe graduated from in Malibu, Pepperdine University. Plus I love that she watches as much television as I feel that I do and I love how she connects her life to the characters in shows. She has even inspired me to start watching Dawson’s creek all over again. Before I get too deep into flashbacks from my high school let me continue with a question I asked Jillian on travel: