Another interesting and very important topic: keeping your passport when applying for a British visa. I don’t know what’s the reason for it, but Brits TAKE your passport and send it to Sheffield where it stays until the decision is made. Lovely huh? For the time unknown. I would have tolerated this more if I knew that I would have to stay without a passport for x number of days. At least I could have planned something. But the ‘up to 60 working days’ perspective didn’t inspire me at all. For the starters, I was living in Germany and my permission to be in the country was glued into my passport. In case of whatever I wouldn’t be able to prove my legal status in the country. Neither would I have been able to go to the bank or deal with any kind of official stuff. But the most important to me was: I wouldn’t have gotten an opportunity to travel. I saw waiting time as an opportunity to visit my mom, stay for a while with my husband, or simply go to the seaside and breathe out after all the paperwork nightmares.
A few weeks before the predicted application date I decided to change the centre and apply from Dusseldorf. For some funny reasons, it is the only centre in Germany which provides the ‘Keep my passport’ service. I knew I would be flying from Edinburgh (we flew to Scotland after the wedding in Denmark to finish paperwork for the visa together). I had to lose my return flight to Berlin and book a new one to Dusseldorf, as well as the hotel and then a train back to Berlin. It was quite a hassle and a few extra expenses but totally worth it. The TLS Contact centre in Dusseldorf also has a super-duper speedy scanning system, so all of your documents ‘arrive’ to Sheffield within a few hours, and you keep ALL the originals. The whole application appointment took me about an hour, the staff were very friendly and helpful. The service of keeping your passport costs about €60. You will have to pay for it before attending the appointment (and print the receipt just in case).
Now, can you travel to the UK while you are waiting for your visa? Yes indeed, if you still have days left with your visitor visa you are free to wait for your spouse visa together with your partner:) It was the best decision!
The downside of applying from Dusseldorf is that I had to go back there to pick up my visa. But, oh well, it was totally worth it as I got to spend 2 months of waiting with my husband and then another few weeks with my family. My visa was ready in 59 days.
When I came back to Dusseldorf (after receiving the email from the Home Office) I handled in my passport around 10 am. I got a message that my passport was ready for collection in about 30 min! Note! Bring any other photo-ID with you, a copy of it and your checklist (I forgot to bring it, but showed the guy the email – worked fine). The real torture was during those 10 mins when I saw my passport but had no idea if it had a visa sticker in it.
I can’t think of any time in my life when I felt more relieved!
Once again: the best of good luck to everyone who’s applying for your UK visa! Keep calm, prepare all the papers carefully and you will have no reasons to worry!
I’ll be more than happy to arrange a private consultation in English or Russian if you’d like some help to go through your paperwork. I have years of experience in applying for all possible kinds of visas. Even though I’m not a lawyer and I can’t give you any 100% guarantee (nobody can), I’m confident that my services will be very helpful! To arrange a session, please drop me a message through the contact form <3