So you want to be an expat.

If you one day find yourself engaged to a British national and you intend to live in the UK, you will be applying for a spousal visa to settle. I was very grateful that Sean knew an American woman that had already gone through the process and was willing to help me and give me advice (thank you, Carlie!) and so I just figure I should pass that knowledge on. Grab a cup of coffee and settle in for a long read.

-The first thing you need to do is get married!
-Once you’re married, change your name on all legal documents and your bank account. (Passport, drivers license, social security card)
-After your new passport arrives, then you can begin your application process. Go to https://www.gov.uk/apply-uk-visa, register for an account and begin filling out your application. The online application is pretty simple and not too long, but do not forget to print and fill out Appendix 2 (the financial requirement form) and the Sponsorship Undertaking form (SU07). Before you finish your online application you will set up an appointment to have your Biometrics taken (fingerprints and a photo), it will walk you through the process. Once you have completed your online application you will submit it and then print out a copy to be included in your package.

**You will be required to submit supporting documents into your package so I would suggest collecting all of your supporting documents before submitting your online application as you have two weeks to ship it to Sheffield, England after you have your Biometrics taken.**
My visa application and supporting documents turned out to be a 7lb, 3 ring binder. I used sheet protectors for each document placed inside and dividers to separate each section. The visa processing center is looking for a reason to not accept your application, so I wanted to make sure I gave them every bit of information they needed and had no trouble finding it in my binder.

Visa application photoThis is my table of contents for my visa package:

SECTION 1:

  • Biometric appointment confirmation
  • IHS Reference number
  • VFS Global priority visa service and return service transaction
  • Return shipping label

SECTION 2:

  • Sponsor letter of introduction (typed)
  • Sponsor letter of intention (handwritten)
  • Sponsorship Undertaking SU07 form
  • Notarized color copies of sponsor’s passport
  • Notarized color copy of sponsor’s driving license
  • Sponsor’s birth certificate (original)

SECTION 3:

  • Notarized color copy of sponsor’s Royal Navy ID card
  • Sponsor’s Royal Navy assignment order
  • Sponsor’s personal and service detail summary
  • Sponsor’s employee personal information

SECTION 4:

  • Accommodation details, letter from sponsor’s mother
  • Proof of address for accommodation (sponsor’s mother)
  • Rejection letter for Armed Forces family accommodation (application: e1132)

SECTION 5:

  • Applicant letter of introduction
  • Application for UK entry clearance- Settlement Visa
  • Applicant’s birth certificate (original)
  • Applicant’s U.S. passport/ 2 UK passport photos
  • Previous passport
  • Notarized color copies of applicant’s drivers license and social security card
  • Final decree of divorce from applicant’s first marriage
  • Applicant’s job resume
  • Letter verifying employment (Massage Envy)
  • Letter verifying employment (Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church)

SECTION 6:

  • Appendix 2: Financial Requirement Form

SECTION 7:

  • Marriage License for Sean and Janice Murphy (certified)
  • Receipt for marriage license
  • Certificate of marriage for Sean and Janice Murphy
  • Wedding photos

SECTION 8:

  • Flight itineraries for Sean and Janice Murphy for visits made in 2015
  • iMessage screen shots
  • Facetime screen shots
  • Photos
  • Wedding cards received from family and friends
  • Letters from family members and friends

INSERTS:

  • Sponsor Financial Information (Tax information from 2014 and 6 months of bank statements)
  • Applicant Financial Information (Tax information from 2014 and 6 months of bank statements)

The application process is not cheap and if it is rejected you could be denied entry into the UK for 10 years, so you want to be thorough and double check everything. You are basically having to prove that you are a legitimate couple and you intend to live together and that your spouse can support you if you cannot find work. We had a dozen handwritten letters from family and friends validating our relationship and it’s very touching to read some of them and I ended up keeping all of them because they put a smile on my face.

Costs:

  • Visa Application- $1530 USD
  • Expedite Service- $562 USD
  • Return Service Airway Bill-$134 USD (This is so they can return your package and notification of whether or not your visa has been approved)
  • Immigration Health Surcharge Payment-  $960 USD
  • TOTAL-$3186 USD

**The expedite service is optional. We chose to do it because it may take anywhere from 2 business days to 6 months to process your application and during summertime, which was when we were applying, they have a high influx of applications due to students studying abroad.

**If you are marrying someone in the Armed Forces you will be refunded the Immigration Surcharge fee because you are a dependent. I was not aware of this when we applied and had a major panic attack when I checked my bank account one day and saw the money had been refunded. If your application is denied, the Immigration Surcharge fee will be the only money refunded back to you, everything else you can say goodbye to.

Additional costs: On top of the application fees, there was the cost of Sean having to send me all of his supporting documents from the UK and the cost of shipping to send the package to Sheffield, England. Which came to about another $200. Also, the cost of printing and getting color copies as well as the binder and sheet inserts. The Sponsorship Undertaking form is 18 pages and because I’m a perfectionist I printed it in color because it was in color on the website. Color copies are not cheap!

About a week and a half after sending my package I received an email telling me that they had made a decision and it would come in the mail. It was a very long 2 1/2 days waiting for my package to come back and I was terrified to open it. You have 30 days from the date on your visa to enter the UK or your visa is void. Once you enter the UK you have 10 days to pick up your Residence card. My visa is good for 5 years, after which I have to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or citizenship/dual citizenship. I plan to apply for dual citizenship.

To anyone applying good luck and if you have any questions, I’d love to try to help answer them.

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