Ecstatic: When my then-fiance decided to petition me to come to the UK to be his wife. Terrified: When we started to undergo the visa application process.
I felt like we were about to climb Mount Everest with this undertaking. The UK government website wasn’t really specific to a T about its requirements and there were almost non-existent information out there from people who underwent it after 2013. I felt like I read every LDR and immigration website and forum over and over and still I couldn’t put it all together. I just don’t have the most organized brain I guess. And plus the fact that immigration procedure changes every few years made me anxious about doing this by ourselves.
Good thing we finally hired a lawyer. It wasn’t cheap, my goodness. But it provided us a clear blueprint of the exact requirements and process not just to apply but get approved. So if you are about to undergo the process, maybe this can help.
A disclaimer: This is by no means meant to replace legal advice and I am not liable if yours do not go well as planned. This is just from our experience and your situation may call for different requirements.
So the first thing we did was consult a lawyer. In his office, he guided my fiance with our online application, answering all basic information and paying the visa and biometric fee. At the end of it, he printed the form to be compiled with our supporting documents later. He also set me up for an appointment with VFS Global Manila, where I will be handing the application in person. I was in Manila then and my fiance was of course in London.
Next, our lawyer asked us to gather all pertinent information to be included in our application. Here is a list of all required documents we compiled:
I refer to myself as the applicant, and my fiance as the sponsor.
- Original and copies of my passports for the last 10 years (personal details page and all stamped pages – both US and Philippines). I have dual citizenship. Also originals and copies of my Naturalization Certificates, both US and Philippines.
- List of all my trips abroad in the last 10 years – country, entry and exit dates, purpose. Info answered part of our form.
- List of all visas I applied for in the last 10 years – country, visa type, issue and expiry dates. Info answered part of our form.
- List of all visa refusals in the last 10 years, if any – country, visa type, date of application, reason for refusal. No, I don’t have any. Info answered part of our form.
- My TB test results – for complete information for this requirement, please refer to: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/tuberculosis-test-for-a-uk-visa-clinics-in-the-philippines/tuberculosis-testing-in-the-philippines. I set up an appointment and have my TB test done before the application.
- Sponsor’s complete UK address.
- His letter of support. Our lawyer wrote this for us and my fiance signed it.
- Copy of sponsor’s Naturalisation Certificate. My fiance was a naturalized British citizen so immigration would like to trace his history too.
- Copy of my sponsor’s grant of indefinite leave to remain. This was in his old passport.
- Letter from his employer confirming his job title, start date, salary, and that his employment is still needed and continuing.
- His payslips for the last six (6) months.
- His bank statements for the last six (6) months. Original, not online copies.
- Evidence of our on-going/regular contact with each other (e.g., greeting cards, used phone cards, e-mail, on-line chat messages). We provided loads of pictures of our time together. We also printed our Whatsapp messages spanning 5 months.It was so thick. We also included copies of our travel iteneraries together.
- A description of the property that we will be living in – number of bedrooms, their sizes, and any other rooms (excluding kitchen and bathrooms).
- Copy of the passports of my sponsor’s parents (personal details pages only) because they own the property.
- Parents’ letter confirming that they will allow me to live in their property. Our lawyer prepared this and they signed it.
- Copy of their property title.
- Their most recent Council Tax bill.
- Proof of our wedding plans/preparations – this can be in the form of e-mail exchanges with the Registry Office (asking about the available dates and requirements) and the reception (showing that we are getting quotes and/or booking for our wedding reception).
* By the way, they did not require me to take an English test because I am a citizen of the USA, a majority English-speaking country. But if you are not, you need to take a test from an approved site or take an equivalency procedure through NARIC. Please see the gov.uk website for more details.
So my fiance gathered all his up and I did mine. We gave ourselves about a week to get everything. When my fiance got all his documents, our lawyer compiled them with the application form and shipped it to me in the Philippines. I then added my supporting documents to the stack and brought in to VFS Global in person. I filed my application and did my biometrics on March 21, 2016. I got a text saying that VFS forwarded my application to UK Immigration Manila on the same day. There was no interview.
The wait was a little under two months. On May 17, I received a text from VFS saying that my application has been processed and was shipped back. There was no confirmation of approval or denial. On May 18, I received my application back. I drew my breath. There was no cover letter so I went straight for my Philippine passport. I opened it and there it was, my UK Entry Clearance stamp with its shiny silver seal. Type: Marriage.
I flew out one week later.