Don’t ask me why, but tonight I put in the movie “The Proposal”. You know the cute and quirky romantic comedy with Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds. I have to preface this by saying, I cannot stand this movie. Visa process for many couple is a stressful and incredibly expensive process. With that in mind, I thought I would write a blog post dedicated to the process Neal and I are getting ready to undergo.
I am constantly walking people through the process of the visa application while answering the question of “Why the UK? Isn’t the US a better bet for where to live next?” Ah, dealing with governments add a delicious amount of red tape and loops to jump through.
Doing constant research I have found that one country (the UK) is more streamlined than the other (US). For example, here are the initial steps for filing for a spousal visa for immigration into the United States:
The First Step: Filing the Petitions
- You, the U.S. citizen sponsor, must first file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office that serves the area where you live. The USCIS will send a Notice of Action (Form I-797) receipt notice to inform you that it has received the petition. See the USCIS website under K-3/K-4 Nonimmigrant Visas for more information.
- You must then file Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), for your foreign-citizen spouse and stepchildren. See Direct Filing Addresses for Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) for information on where to file the petition for a K-3 visa.
- After USCIS approves the petitions, they will be sent to the National Visa Center (NVC) for processing.
The Second Step: Applying for a Visa
Important Notice: Effective February 1st, 2010, when both petitions have been approved by USCIS and sent to the NVC or when USCIS approves the I-130 before the I-129F, the availability of, as well as the need for, a nonimmigrant K-3 visa ends. If the NVC receives both an approved I-130 petition and an approved I-129F petition:
- The nonimmigrant K-3 visa case will be administratively closed.
- The application process explained below will not be available to the foreign-citizen spouse and cannot be used.
- The NVC will contact the U.S. citizen sponsor and foreign-citizen spouse, with instructions for processing the IR-1 (or CR-1) immigrant visa. For more information on the immigrant visa process, review the Immigrant Visa for a Spouse webpage.
Are you reading this scratching your head wondering what it all means? Yeah, me too. I am college educated, an American citizen and a fluent in English and I cannot follow this to save my life. The loops and confusion lead many couples to hiring an immigration lawyer. (Talk about an additional expense.)
Did I mention that there are additional steps after applying for the visa? Like interviews, medical tests and documents proving your relationship. That is my personal favorite. I love the idea of having to prove our relationship. We’ve been saving airline tickets, photographs and of course we have hundreds of e-mails to prove our communication thread. Oh, did I also mention that there are fees associated to each stage of the game? $300 here, $450 here. (Not to mention the legal fees.)
Now, moving onto the United Kingdom…
We will be apply for a visa through application form VAF4A. The form is fairly straight forward, asking information about both of us, our work history, relationship, etc. This is the only form we need to fill out. Also, these are the documents that we need to provide:
- 2 recent passport photographs and your passport
- evidence of your age and your partner’s age
- official evidence that your and your partner’s previous marriage(s) and/or civil partnership(s) broken down permanently, if either of you has been married or in a civil partnership
- evidence that you intend to marry or register your civil partnership within a reasonable time (usually 6 months)
- evidence that you have met each other
- evidence that you intend to live together permanently after you have married or registered your civil partnership
- evidence of your English language ability
- evidence that you can maintain yourselves and any dependents adequately without needing public funds
- evidence of your accommodation
So there you have it. The nitty gritty between the US and the UK when it comes the visa/immigration process. I hope that helps to clarify why we are leaning more and more towards the UK as the best option for us. I also hope this article helps to clarify when the movie “The Proposal” just isn’t that funny of a movie to me. (Except for the part with the dog and the eagle. Good laughs.)
Information on the UK Process: http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/visas-immigration/partners-families/citizens-settled/fiancee-proposed-cp/documents/
Information on the US Process: http://travel.state.gov/visa/immigrants/types/types_2993.html