Many years ago, when Barry and I tentatively discussed plans to live in UK ‘for the foreseeable future’, we had no idea how huge the cost would be. Financially, emotionally and time-wise.
Over eight years later, the constantly-changing-goalposts continue to be a moveable feast. Thank goodness for our supportive and knowledgable solicitor Andre (who works for Cartwright King in Birmingham), who keeps up to date with the process. I recently read that in the six years since Theresa May (as then Home Secretary) changed the previous process in July 2012 from two-years to five, more words have been written than in Tolstoy’s War and Peace!
In case you’re interested that’s over 99,000 …
Proving Ourselves to be Legitimate
Barry’s initial application was in August 2013, for which we engaged a visa specialist in New Zealand (who’d emigrated there from UK!). He had to return alone to New Zealand, as we’d not realised about the 2012 changes until it was too late to alter our travel plans. We’d arrived in UK March 2013.
This was thankfully successful, and he re-joined me in late October.
The second application was sent by Andre in July 2016. More expense. Thousands of pounds – including £500 ‘just in case’ he needed any NHS care. Again, to our immense relief, we heard in early September Barry had passed with flying colours.
Each time, we must prove we’re a legitimate couple, we have the financial means to support ourselves without recourse to public funds, and that we have a ‘suitable’ place to live. Which can be a complex conundrum living on a narrowboat that isn’t even moored in a Marina! We previously used my mum’s physical address, to tick the boxes; now we use my eldest daughter’s. I suspect if we had to, we could persuade the powers that be that we don’t need one. But we’d rather not take that chance. Our ability to satisfy the requirements of the ‘normal’ boxes is already stretched enough …
For more than six years now this has been hanging over us. We’ve collated as much ‘evidence’ of our genuine marriage/partnership throughout that time. It’s rather tedious to be frank. We know we’re not alone. That there are many hundreds if not thousands in similar predicaments. We realise we’re fortunate to have the means to navigate our way through the complexity.
The Final Countdown …
This week the final documents for his application via the ‘Settle in the UK as the partner of a person, or parent of a child, who is in the UK and settled here: form SET(M)‘ route, were sent by Special Delivery to Birmingham for Andre to complete the process. We’d visited him in person last week, where he’d filled in the on-line application form in our presence. A new process. Whereby the questions populate themselves after each answer, so you don’t know what’s coming next. Needless to say there were unsurprisingly a number of challenges to that. One of which was most unpleasant. I shan’t go into detail here. I just hope they change it for other applicants in future.
Yesterday Barry took the bus to Sutton Coldfield Post Office, to submit his ‘Biometrics’. A photograph and fingerprints are recorded and hopefully matched up with the application.
Gambling on a Prompt and Positive Outcome
Now we wait.
The previous two applications have taken around six to eight weeks from application to conclusion. If that works we should hear by the end of March.
We toyed with submitting via a ‘Fast Track’, and paying another £600+ on top of the more than £3,500 already paid for this application alone. But decided against it. A bit of a gamble – as I booked flights to go to Amsterdam 10th April for a few days for Barry’s birthday! The cost of that is half of the Fast Track amount.
Luckily we don’t have to pay the ‘just in case’ NHS fee this time. As it’s risen by 100%. Barry hasn’t had his money’s worth from last time yet. Neither do I wish him to of course 😉
Apparently we could’ve got someone to come out to submit our application and paperwork one-on-one. We’re not entirely sure if this includes coming to a narrowboat. We chose not to investigate. Guess how much this option would cost? I can’t even bring myself to write it. What do you think is A/ an appropriate amount for this. And B/ the ACTUAL amount? The nearest answer posted in the comments below can choose one of Barrys Greeting Card‘s and we’ll post it free …
To be honest, so long as the outcome is that Barry receives his Indefinite Leave to Remain acceptance, the money is inconsequential. Though it does seem rather hypocritical that we have to pay so much to prove we can afford to survive! It’d be easier to have adequate funds if we didn’t have to pay so much to show we do! Dr Seuss could write an amusing tale …
“Everything stinks till it’s finished.” (to remind us that most everything can be difficult and a challenge until it’s wrapped up and you can give yourself a gold star for the accomplishment.)Dr Seuss Quotes (https://brightdrops.com/dr-seuss-quotes)
However, the alternative is not possible to even consider.