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    The Process Of Getting A UK Spousal Visa

    Congratulations, you've just gotten married! Time to start your married life together! …Er, actually, you've got to wait until UK Visas and Immigration decides it's okay for you to be together.

    1. The stress doesn't end after the wedding

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    Maybe you took some time off to enjoy your honeymoon, but just because you no longer have to stress about how many people will be at the reception or whether the cake will arrive on time doesn't mean you're done with stress altogether. Oh, no. This is when the stress really starts.

    What if you don't send in all the right information? What if you're missing an important document? WHAT IF YOUR APPLICATION IS REJECTED?

    2. You'll feel like this a lot of the time

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    There are lots of webpages and long documents on the UKVI website to read, the useless enquiry service to ask for advice, forum threads to read, and even Facebook groups to ask for advice, but it doesn't change the feeling of beating your head against a wall.

    3. Can you even apply yet?

    If you don't meet the financial requirement, you will have to wait until you do to make your application. Even if you spouse earns enough to satisfy the rules, if they haven't earned enough for the past 6 months, you'll have to wait.

    4. Empty your pockets for the fee

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    £885 was $1,427.77 as I wrote this. Add another $510 if you want to expedite it, which might be a good idea.

    5. Get your fingerprints and picture taken at a biometric appointment

    The security guard at the door was nice, but otherwise it felt like a trip to the DMV — if there were slightly fewer people waiting and most of them looked like they were about to be forced to leave their families. A soul-sucking, cold, grey place.

    6. Time to collect all your supporting documents.

    Via google.com

    Yep, that looks about right. Cut down a few trees in preparation.

    Along with your application, there's quite a few supporting documents you'll have to send. Be sure to send them within 2 weeks of your biometric appointment.

    7. You must meet the ominous Financial Requirement

    Via cdn.static-economist.com

    Most important is the financial requirement. If your sponsor (spouse) hasn't earned an annual salary of at least £18,600 for the previous 6 months, there are a few other ways to meet the requirement. Got income property? A stipend or grant? A pension? Regularly high enough self-employment income? Or even, at least £16,000 (plus the additional amount needed) in savings for 6 months before sending in the application? Psht, who doesn't have that?

    For one child accompanying the immigrating spouse, add £3,800, then £2,400 for each additional child.

    Where the financial requirement used to be based a system of maintenance, in which the applicant and sponsor demonstrated they could afford the average cost of living, now it is primarily based on income. The rules don't take into account how the immigrating spouse may contribute towards the household income.

    Since the new rules were put into effect in 2012, thousands of applications were put on hold based on this requirement (4,000 according to a source at the Home Office). After the rules were deemed lawful by the High Court this July, they would all receive rejections.

    Some British citizens have had to decide between country and family, becoming expatriates not by choice but because they have been forced out by these rules. Some have been prevented from moving back to the UK, although they earn more than enough where they are currently living with their families. Some studies suggest at least 40% of working Brits would not meet the financial requirement through income alone.

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    "It penalises people who are not on a regular salary, either through self-employment, freelancing or seasonal work. It would appear to most normal people that bureaucrats are looking for reasons to deny visas to deserving cases. But then, such people might be accused of unwarranted cynicism."

    - Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants

    8. You have to prove you have a "Genuine and Subsisting Relationship"

    Via picheaven.com

    You're going to have to prove that you are actually in a relationship, so hopefully you've saved most of the letters and cards you've exchanged. And some photos. And transcripts of your conversations over the internet. And proof of travel to see each other. Oh, and get your new spouse to fill out a form saying you are in fact married and that they support your application and will support you financially.

    Diminish your relationship down to the physical proof of it. Honestly, by the end, you'll wish you could just give the UKVI all your passwords. HERE, LOOK AT OUR FACEBOOK CHATS. WE SEND EACH OTHER BUZZFEED ARTICLES AND DIRTY JOKES AND LOTS OF XXXXXs. Proof enough yet?

    9. Do you speak (enough) English?

    If the immigrating spouse is not from a primarily English-speaking country, they'll have to take an English test, and get a high enough score to please the UKVI.

    10. Send in all original documents or certified copies — including your passport

    If you wanted to go on a trip that required having a passport, you're going to have to give that up until your application has been processed. Oh, they say you can request to get your passport returned — if you want your application to be cancelled, and lose all the money you paid for the fee.

    11. You must include return shipping

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    International return shipping, that is. When I paid to ship my documents via FedEx, return shipping cost about $200.

    Here, UKVI, take more of my money. I know that $1,500 wasn't enough to send me my documents back.

    12. The waiting period

    Via blogger.com

    You're familiar with waiting, right? Chances are, if you did long distance with your spouse before getting married, you are.

    My husband and I did long distance from 2009-2012 and 2013-2014, traveling to see each other as much as possible. Now that I'm waiting for my documents to be returned and he's had to go back to work, it's back to Skype for our only face-to-face interaction. Don't they say the first bit of time as a married couple is really important? Thanks a lot, UKVI.

    13. The enquiry service is a joke

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    The only way to get in touch with the UKVI is through an enquiry service which has no connection to the office that makes visa decisions. In fact, it seems to be outsourced altogether.

    What does this mean?

    1. UKVI takes no responsibility for any incorrect information the enquiry service gives you, even if it affects your visa decision.

    2. You may be given incorrect or out of date information about the status of your application. Want to know if it's been reviewed? For a month they may say it hasn't been seen, then later say a decision was made before you even first enquired about the status.

    3. You can never directly contact the UKVI. For any reason.

    4. UKVI distances itself from applicants and sponsors, to protect itself from applicants who have been rejected, but also from applicants who have questions about the process or need to check into the status of their application — even after a decision has been made but the documents have not been shipped back.

    5. Even more problematic, this is an agency working under a government which is actively trying to restrict immigration and slice it to 10% of what it has been. They don't want people to immigrate there, and yet they are okay with outsourcing their enquiry service?

    14. Annnnnnnnnnnd still waiting...

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    "You should get a decision on your visa within 12 weeks."

    15. Good luck!

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    Eventually, you should get a response. Hopefully you'll be approved. If not, you'll have to start the process of appealing or applying again. But let's not think about that right now.

    Hold on to the good memories. You have to be pretty badass to keep a long distance relationship going, and thriving. You've got this.

    Anyway, the UKVI can SUCK IT.

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