This is a love story about two amazing people who met and fell in love and decided they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together. So, they got engaged and, after they had booked their wedding, they came across a slight hurdle: the man is British, and the woman is American, and they want to live (and work) in the UK.
So how did the British Visa system help or hinder them in their love match? Read on and find out what happened and why, as an HR professional, I am even blogging about visas and immigration.
Well, it is precisely because I’m an HR professional that I choose to tell you about this because it’s not necessarily until you are directly affected by these matters, that you realise how complicated the visa / immigration rules are.
Sure, I have advised clients before both in terms of advising them about how to go about trying to sponsor a non-EU national wanting to come over to the UK to work. I’ve had to read up about the different Tiers to the visa system and learned all about the Shortage Occupation Categories – which rarely seem to be reviewed or changed (although they are reviewed, we are told!). However, the sponsor programme is incredibly complex, and quite honestly you would lose the will to live once you’ve tried to (a) find the right form to complete and (b) completed the form and then (c) sent off the form with all the correct documents! by then the person has probably already got another job!
With these two lovelies, she endeavoured to take on the visa system and find out how easy or otherwise it was to apply for a UK visa. First things first, you need to identify which type of visa that you need. With this couple even that wasn’t straight forward but eventually it was agreed that, as they are engaged, she needs to apply for a spouse visa. That said, there are endless forms to complete with unbelievable amounts of evidence including:
- verified bank statements
- verified passport obviously
- confirmed details of where they could live including letter from me and photos of house to prove that the house is big enough to accommodate another couple
- letters from friends and family confirming that this is a bona fide relationship
- confirmation of his job and career
Then, once it is all ready to go and you’ve emptied your piggy bank of >£1300 you can sit back and wait for someone to confirm that a decision has been made. If this is fast tracked you can still expect to wait weeks and then, when a decision has been made, you don’t get told what the decision is until the documents and your passport returned.
Having a fiancée visa, she is still not able to work in the UK. This allows her to come to the UK, to get married within 6 months, and then apply for a spouse visa.
So, now they are happily married, and we have to do it all again for a spouse visa although this time there is additional cost of:
- another visa application – approx. £1500
- health surcharge - £400 per year for visa applications i.e. £2,000 total
- proof of earnings of at least £18.600 per year
- successfully pass the English language test
- If you want to drive, she will have to pass her driving test which is additional cost of theory test and driving test – total £89
It is so easy for us in HR to just do all the eligibility to work in the UK checks and not think of the personal story sitting behind the people involved. Now that I have personal experience of this within my family, I will be much more aware and sensitive to the whole immigration issue – particularly in the lead up to a no-deal or deal Brexit.
Let me know if you have any queries on any issues raised here. Oh, and can I give a big shout out to the amazing Nikki Weir of Burness Paull solicitors who is a fantastic Immigration lawyer and we could not have navigated this without her!