My step-by-step type guide that follows my own journey to permanently relocate to the UK. This is something we’ve been planning for a couple of years but it wasn’t until last year that we knew we would be going in 2018.
My husband, Shane, is a British citizen so it’s easy for him to go back there. He just flies in, flashes is British passport and Bob’s your uncle! But for me, this is not so easy! I’m a Kiwi through and through, my family has been here for several generations; they were British immigrants to New Zealand over 100yrs ago so I’m not able to get an ancestry visa.
Which visa do I need to relocate to the UK?
To find out which visa would best suit your needs, you can check out the official UK Government website. This gives you a break down of the different types of visas available so you can determine which one would best suit your needs.
For me, I have to have a Settlement Visa, subcategory – Wife. It used to be called a Spouse visa and is still widely referred to this way so if you can’t find anything for spouse visa, don’t panic!
A Spouse visa allows me to join my husband in the UK but he has to sponsor me. This means he needs to be earning a certain amount of money per annum to support us both as we are not allowed to apply for benefits.
Steps to applying
First, you need to decide if you’re going to do this yourself, or if you’re going to enlist a 3rd part to assist you. I decided to go through another company, 1st Contact, to help me get everything together to give me the best chance of being approved.
I’ve looked into it myself and it’s pretty convoluted (with over 1,000yrs of immigration laws, it’s bound to be!) and I’ve also read a number of blogs and articles by other people trying to get through the same application and it does seem that anyone who goes it alone, is more likely to be declined.
Personally, I would recommend using a 3rd party to assist. Yes, it costs more but if it makes the difference between being approved or denied, I would rather pay the extra money!
Fortunately for me, 1st Contact has an Australian office so I can talk to someone who is on a similar time zone! As New Zealand is anywhere between 11-13hrs ahead of the UK, having someone on the same timezone to discuss my application with is really important!
1st Contact also has a policy that will refund you their fees if your visa application is denied, providing you’ve followed their advice exactly. For me, this says that they are confident in their abilities as why would they offer a refund if they had a lot of applications denied? It just wouldn’t be financially viable.
Gather all your evidence (check out the list below) and make sure you have absolutely everything you need! If you’re going through a 3rd party, they will advise if the evidence you have is sufficient and will let you know when you have everything together.
Make copies of everything, you don’t want to send off any originals. Copies are fine and you won’t need to have them returned to you once you have received a decision for your application. They will you to send a self-addressed, prepaid, return envelope but I was unable to do this from New Zealand as they can’t estimate the cost of postage.
Don’t be surprised if this takes a few weeks. It took me approx a month to gather everything I needed.
Once you’ve finished gathering all your evidence, you will be able to complete the online application.
My caseworker had started the online application and completed all the necessary fields, including the financial appendix (which looks complicated!). All I need to do was login and check all the information was correct, arrange an appointment time for my biometric appointment, pay the UK visa fee and the NHS surcharge before hitting submit.
I also had to print out the forms and sign and date them to take with me to the biometric appointment.
Attending the biometric appointment! This felt amazing! I was almost there after waiting so long to get everything together. There were only a couple more steps to go.
You would have made an appointment at the closest assessment centre to you, which in New Zealand is – Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. So because I live in Hamilton, I had to travel up to Auckland for my appointment. Luckily, it’s only about a 2hr drive to get there.
The appointment takes less than 5 mins! They will stamp the application you printed out in step 3, take your photo and scan your fingerprints.
That’s it! You’re done!
5th (and final) step:
Last step! Woohoo!
Send off all your documents. You will have be given instructions from your caseworker or found the instructions on the UK Visa website if you’re completing it on your own.
I had to send my passport, a passport photo, prepaid, self-addressed return courier bag and the signed application form to the embassy in Auckland. I then had to send all the documents I had gathered to Sheffield in the UK, this is when I found out I couldn’t send a prepaid, return envelope, but … copies!
Make sure you send the documents via tracked postage so you can make sure it is delivered. It took mine about 5 or 6 days to be delivered. Initially, the tracking showed that the package had failed to be delivered (it goes to a PO box), but the next day it was delivered successfully. My caseworker told me this was normal, so if it happens to you there’s no need to worry!
And it’s all done! It’s now completely out of your hands.
What kinds of things do I need to have to apply??
The list is NOT short!! So apart from Shane having to have employment that earns more than £18,600 a year, we also have to have the following:
- 12 months payslips from employment in New Zealand that earns more than £18,600 per year
- 12 months bank statements showing salary
- Personal Tax Summary
- Photos of the two of us together
- Mail addressed to the both of us showing our address, or individual mail for each person showing we reside at the same address
- Marriage certificate
- Divorce decree (if applicable)
- Letter of support from sponsor – so Shane had to write a letter saying he fully supports my application
- Letter confirming relationship – he also had to write a letter stating that we are married and give the date and place of where we were married
- Employment contract in the UK
- Letter of offer for the UK job
- Payslips from his job in the UK
- Bank statements from his bank in the UK
- Letter from NZ Employer stating his current salary, job title, type of employment (fulltime or partime) and how long he has been in the job
- Letter from accommodation provider – we have to have the tenancy agreement plus a letter from the landlord confirming I can live at the same address
- And finally, the application form which is approx 12-15 pages of questions
It’s a slow going process but it has been good having someone to check over all our documents to make sure they’re correct and will be acceptable for the application.
How much does a UK visa cost??
It is not cheap! Not at all! It has cost me, almost $6000 dollars (NZD) which is a lot of money! This includes the £500 healthcare surcharge that I have to pay, and the amount I have paid to 1st Contact as well. They have a set fee of $1695 (AUD) which isn’t too bad.
If you’re paying by the hour, it could cost a fortune! But I’m pretty sure most companies like this have a set fee.
What happens next?
I received a courier bag from the embassy here in NZ about a week after I applied, returning the application (not my passport though) with a letter saying that these are no longer processed in NZ and that I would need to send this to the UK. I checked in with my caseworker (another great reason to go through a 3rd party!) and she reassured me that this was normal and to ignore the letter.
About 2 weeks after my documents were delivered, I received an email to advise they had received my application and that I could expect to hear within 12 weeks of the application date. I was advised though that the date is taken from the date you complete the biometrics.
Where I am at now
It has been 5 weeks since I attended my biometric appointment and sent off all my evidence. I’ve received the letter above, and another letter telling me I hadn’t sent in a prepaid envelope to return the documents but I’m not worried about getting them back.
There is no way to track the progress of my application so unless they contact me for more information (which can happen), I won’t hear anything until I receive a decision.
So unfortunately, I just have to play the waiting game! Hopefully I’ll hear something in the next 7 weeks and I’ll be able to update this post more then 🙂
So last week on Tuesday 04.09 I received an email from the UK Visa decision place (almost 11 weeks after my Biometric appointment) and they advised that they had not scanned my documents in properly (they’d already sent them back to my husband!) and they needed me to resend my bank statements plus they decided they needed to see the signed contract from Shane’s second job.
Now, immigration rules state:
“4. In respect of a job offer in the UK (for an applicant’s partner) a letter from the employer must be provided:
(a) confirming the job offer, the gross annual salary and the starting date of the employment which must be within 3 months of the applicant’s partner’s return to the UK;
(b) enclosing a signed contract of employment, which must have a starting date within 3 months of the applicant’s partner’s return to the UK.”
We sent through (a) so there is no reason why we would need to have (b) as well but they asked and we must provide. If you’re going through this process and end up having to have a second job as well to meet the min financial requirement, make sure you accept the offer and get a contract, no matter what you’re told as it is entirely possible they will ask for it. Especially in the current climate in the UK with Brexit.
I’ve sent them everything they need as of yesterday (Tuesday 11.09.2018) and now I just have to wait again!
We have been told that we can escalate the application once the 60 days in up, which for me is Thursday 13.09.2018. Apparently, once escalated it can take up to 15 working days for the application to be completed.
We’re keeping everything crossed that this comes through in the next few days!
I hope this helps anyone else who is going through the process or looking to go through it in the near future! It is not an easy process to navigate and I wish you the best of luck for your application!
MY VISA WAS APPROVED!!! Woohoo!!
As you can imagine, I was jumping up and down when my passport arrived and my long wait of 13.5 weeks was over!!
I have a temporary visa in my passport (a vignette) which states I must enter the UK between 01.10.18 – 30.10.18. I also received a letter with my passport which explains the different parts of the visa and also tells me where I need to go to pick up my BRP which will allow me to move freely between the UK and other countries.
I’ve now booked my flights and I leave NZ on Sat 6th October! Woohoo!! Can’t wait!!
I really hope this guide helps others trying to go down this road! It’s a stressful time and I totally feel your pain, please reach out if you have any questions and I’ll do my best to help you out 🙂
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