One of the reasons for creating a series of blog posts on the story of my visa application was the total absence of something similar in Google. I have got quite used to the fact that Google tends to not know the answers to my questions. It sucks. On a positive side, though, it means that my life is quite something, huh?
Anyway, how was my situation different?
I was a Russian-Passport holder living in Germany with a visa for job-search (issued after having a student-visa for 4 years) willing to apply for a UK spouse visa.
I haven’t found a single story online describing a similar situation. None. So, let it be.
- How to apply for a spouse visa to the UK from Germany as a non-European citizen.
- Or how to apply for a British settlement visa as a Russian from Germany?
- Как подать документы на британскую визу жены из Германии, имея студенческую немецкую визу?
First things first: if you are applying for any usual visitor/travel visa to any country from a country of your current residence (doesn’t matter which passport you hold) it’s easy-peasy. Just check with the embassy of the particular country at your place of residence.
But a settlement visa is a slightly different story. It is much more expensive (at least, in the case of Britain) and you will have to prepare a much bigger package of documents. In general, there’s no much difference for where to apply from (your home country or country of residence, but if you are living abroad you will have to show your residence permit). There are a few differences though which I will cover later in this post.
To start with, please study carefully the HOME OFFICE site. It is quite confusing, a few things I had to read quite a few times because some of the formulations are just tricky. But I’ll try to bring some order into this mess :)
To apply for a Spouse visa you will need to fill in & prepare the following documents:
- Application form
You shall register and create one HERE. You will have about four months to finish your application. When you are all ready and set, you save it (no more corrections allowed online, but it’s totally ok if you do them later with a pen) and proceed to the payment (you will pay for your visa application, possible visa centre fee and a health insurance for the first 33 months. Various options of payment are possible, including PayPal, but be sure to notify your bank about a somewhat big amount of money to be paid). The application form and all the bills you receive by email shall be printed out and brought to the Visa Centre. As of February 2018, the costs were about £1500 for the visa application and about £700 for IHS.
TIP: If you have applied for any British visa before, it might be wise to use your first visa application as a draft. Fact matching is good (relying on memory not so).
Not needed. I have no idea why they keep on saying that you shall bring a photograph when they take a picture of you right there (it’s a part of the biometrics). At least I can positively say so for the application centres in Berlin and Dusseldorf.
- Appendix II
You can download it from the Home Office website.
It is a very long questionary about yourself, your partner (who is been called rather coldly a SPONSOR), and a bit of both of yous. I’d recommend printing a few of those as the chances are you will spoil quite a bit of paper. You would want to have your partner next to you while filling it. Especially considering the fact that the appendix is not focused that much on you, but rather on your sponsor, their career and, most importantly, if he/she can provide for the family (as of 02.2018, £18.600 before taxes p/a and additionally a few thousand more for your (applicant’s) dependent children, but it was not my case). British children of your partner are NOT included in the calculations.
TIP: The last page suggests to write down additional information to support your application. But I used it as a space for listing our supporting documents in an organised order.
- English language something
I will write an entire post on it. But briefly, if you are not from an English speaking country, you need to pass a test APPROVED by the Home office. Required level (I still find it very amusing) is A1.
Another option: you are holding a bachelor diploma taught in English. But not just. You will have to approve it (£60) with NARIC.
- TB test
Here’s one of the differences: as a Russian national I would have to apply for a TB test in a certified centre in Moscow (in my case). But! There are exceptions for those who have been living in the countries free from such requirement for more than 6 months. Which my case was. What I did, I took a screenshot of this page, printed it out and wrote down with a red pen that I had been living in Germany for the last 4,5 years and stated the numbers of the pages with my German visas.
- Marital status
Your wedding certificate, obviously. We also attached bills for the wedding ceremony and apostille (which hadn’t arrived before my application, but the officer in the visa centre said it was no problem).
Your sponsor’s information:
- Copy of all passport pages.
- Current job contract, a letter from the employee stating the character of their employment (full-time/part-time) and their annual salary, payslips for the past 6 months. NB! If you are applying with a route B (as we did) – meaning your partner had changed jobs recently and has been working at a current position for less than 6 months – then you also attach payslips from the previous job (we attached 12 months).
- My husband is an architect so we also attached his registration number.
- Bank statements (online print-outs for the past 12 months). I read somewhere that they must be all stamped at the bank, but I find it ridiculous(over 100 pages?!): simple online prints worked out just fine.
- Divorce certificate (if applicable) & kids’ birth certificates (as well as the first marriage certificate, just in case).
- Rent/mortgage/ownership of property papers. Basically: you will have a roof to stay under kind of papers. And also an additional message of ‘we intend to live together’. A contract with an agency and possibly a few utility bills would help.
- Genuine relationship
The fun part where you have to prepare all the possible evidence of you guys being for real. Messengers’ logs, photographs, letters, tickets, boarding passes, etc, etc. Bring it on!
And here’s a tiny remark: dear Home office people, you know what? Collecting those was of no problem to us as we have tons of stuff, but it was of yes time-consuming. Generally exhausting and very very heavy in the end. But here’s what I have to say: if some un-genuine couple manages to fake their relationship in all those needed ways, they SHALL get a bloody visa, cause tell you what, they must be really smart and determined, they deserve to be in this country!
But back to the topic. What did we attach? Here’s the full list!
- selected WhatsApp messages (on average, 2-3 screenshots per week, also! very selective: no dirty-talk or swearing, you don’t want to offend anyone);
- screenshots of the list of WhatsApp video calls (we wanted to add FaceTime as well, but, unfortunately, they are not being saved, i.e. you can track the call history only back to a few);
- screenshots of iMessages (I think, all of them, including the very first messages we exchanged);
- very organised boarding passes and other tickets in chronological order. Some were gone missing, but even without those, it was clear that we travelled A LOT to each other;
- supporting letters. We wrote a letter each (where we stated how we met, a brief story of our relationship and how important we were to each other). And we also asked my father in law to write one (which turned out beautifully!) and he attached a front page of his passport and a utility bill, as well as my husband’s birth certificate. And another letter from my hubby’s wing-man and our mutual friend. He also attached a passport copy and a utility bill;
- a few letters and cards we have exchanged (scanned and printed on A4);
- and, of course, PHOTOGRAPHS! We had a ton of them. Like really way too many. But no-one wants to see 300 pics of a random couple, right? So, be nice to the visa officer checking your case :) We put 2 pictures on A4 with short descriptions of what when where. Same idea as with the messages: a few for each meeting. Altogether, about 30. Important to add pictures with your friends, family, kids. Not just selfies. Make sure one can guess from the pictures that they were taken at different time and at different places.
- Anything else?
Yep! I also added my CV, my m/a Diploma from Moscow State University (did not need a translation because it was already issued in two languages, but was handy to have a copy: they wouldn’t scan an original at a3 paper), my b/a Diploma from Berlin, my CAE C1 test (which doesn’t fit under their requirements, but whatever, I wanted them to see zet mi inglisch spikin olrite), my registration in Germany (and once again my current visa as it is required for those who apply from another country), my bank statements for 6 month and a signed paper from the bank with my current balance.
ALL THE DOCUMENTS HAVE TO BE PRINTED ON A4 PAPER. COPY, SCAN, REPRINT, BUT IT HAS TO BE A4 JUST AND ONLY. They have a super duper quick scanner, they put a pile in it and it scans the papers with the speed of light. Double sided is ok, but it has to be A4!
Organise your documents carefully. Not for the Home Office, but for YOU: it will be much easier to handle them to an officer at the visa centre when you know exactly the order of your paperwork.
There’s an option to apply for a priority service to speed up your visa, but we decided to give it a try with the usual waiting times. Those were very long 3 months, extremely nervous during the last few weeks. But everything worked out well:
24.02 I applied for my visa from Dusseldorf (why from Dusseldorf, not Berlin – there’s an entire post coming up about it)
22.05 I got an email that the Decision had been made (watch out though, that’s when your nerves start going mad for the never say which decision they made, it will be the same email for both positive and negative answer)
59 working days from the day of application.
Blood. Sweat. Tears. Success :)
30.05 Picked up my visa with the most beautiful ‘job permitted’ sentence on it
31.05 landed in Edinburgh
4.06 Got my BRP card from the post office.
More to come! Don’t waste your time, start collecting them papers NOW. Trust me, there’s never enough time :) Good luck!
If you have found this article useful, please let me know in the comment section below! Feel free to share it with those who might be looking for the similar answers. I have applied for dozens of visas in my life and I really do understand the application process. I would be happy to help you to prepare your application, please use the contact form to discuss details.