Intercontinental Romance: Don’t “Settle Down” Without These Tips

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Intercontinental Romance: Don’t “Settle Down” Without These Tips

Mandy, a first-year American law student studying at the University of Cambridge met Terry, a local who worked in the law library where she spent many of her nights burning the midnight oil in preparation for her exams. After a particularly late night cramming for a political science test, Terry seized his opportunity to strike up a conversation with the hard-working American law student. Soon thereafter the two became inseparable.

Two years later with graduation day looming in the distance, Mandy knew that her relationship with Terry had reached a point where marriage was the probable next step. Three months before graduation, Terry proposed and Mandy tearfully accepted. Still reeling from her engagement, Mandy was slightly taken aback when her mother asked if she was going to move to the UK or if her fiancée would relocate to the US. It wasn’t something Mandy and Terry had readily discussed but had quickly become a high priority issue. After much discussion, Mandy decided to settle in the UK as it would benefit their relationship and Terry’s upcoming enrollment in graduate school in London.

With little to no knowledge of the settlement visa process, Mandy and Terry ventured onto the Internet with hopes of locating as much pertinent information as possible. Unfortunately, the information they came across was vague, confusing and only made the settlement visa process seem insurmountable. They didn’t realize that Mandy had to go back to the United States to apply for the visa. They also didn’t know that Terry had to write a detailed letter stating the nature of his relationship with Mandy. One of the biggest issues that arose during the application process was the lengthy wait time. According to several sources on various ex-pat websites and blogs, the settlement visa could take up to six months to process.

Couples like Mandy and Terry embark on the arduous task of getting married and relocating to the UK every year. With the right guidance and tips, couples can avoid many of the common pitfalls by following these simple steps that make the quest to obtain a settlement visa for the UK as stress-free and straight-forward as possible.

  1. Document your relationship every step of the way. In order to apply for a settlement visa you must be a non-UK citizen engaging in marriage with a UK citizen. UK immigration officials want to see a clear, linear picture of your relationship dating back to when you first met. Examples of this documentation includes: Long distance phone bills, emails, pictures, gifts, trips taken together, special events (graduations, weddings, birthdays), rent or mortgage.
  2. The UK citizen within the relationship has to write a detailed letter. They must state that he/she is seeking to marry their partner, the non-UK citizen, and that he/she is relocating to the UK due to their impending nuptials.
  3. Display your financial and employment status with bank records/statements, job offers and proof of employment. The UK citizen must have a job and money in the bank as they will be the sole providers for their non-UK spouse for the first six months of the relationship. You cannot seek a work visa until after six months has passed.
  4. Give proof of accommodations via a rental lease or agreement or a mortgage agreement. If you are moving into corporate house or university housing, you must provide proof of housing via a certified letter from the employer or university/college on official letterhead.
  5. Keep all of your documents together in a binder so that your application and the supporting documents are organized and easy to locate. Also, when you ship your application to the UK Consulate office, it is best to include the binder so that documents do not get lost or misplaced during the processing.

Click here for more information on how to obtain a UK settlement visa.

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by Linda Ripoll

Linda Ripoll is a senior editor at Without The Stress, a passport, travel visa, and immigration advisory firm located in Los Angeles. Myra McKelvie is one of the world's foremost UK Immigration experts. She is currently offering consulting services at UK Immigration Without The Stress. Prior to her current role, she was an entry clearance officer (ECO) at the UK Consulate in Los Angeles for 15 years. Myra is originally from Glasgow, Scotland.

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