Originally Posted by MrsScotland
Just jumping in here to answer what I can quickly for you...
I am American and I was able to go to a same-day service to get a passport in Washington State. I had to bring my marriage license, but it was approved quickly and mailed to me within a few weeks if I remember correctly. Also updated my driver's license. You will need these things to be updated before you begin UK immigration because once she is living over here and in the process of getting settled, she won't want her passport or license to expire while she's here (and before she gets her British driver's license and British passport). It is difficult to renew a US passport (not impossible, just more difficult) once she is no longer living in the US. And without a US physical address any longer, it will be impossible to renew a driver's license as proof of residency is required by most states. A lot of things become more difficult -- bank accounts, filing taxes, even using your US Netflix account -- LOL -- it is truly a process of leaving the US and becoming British. I wish her all the best on her journey and highly advise updating all documents before she takes the leap across the pond.
Trying to think of things I wish I had known 5 years ago when I began.
- Open joint bank account right away and get paper statements mailed to you
- Shop around for utility companies that will allow you to have joint accounts (some don't)
- Get an international driver's license before arriving in the UK (if she wants to drive on a US license)
- Shop around for good car insurance to cover her (it is expensive until she has a UK license)
- Start saving now for driving lessons. Start studying for the written exam right away so it's not as stressful to pass.
- Get a job or join activities as soon as possible to start learning the culture. It's going to be a shock on her and it's different for everyone. The only way to help lessen the shock is to try to make new friends to help add some humour and understanding to the challenges she will encounter.
- Don't expect your online US accounts to work well anymore. A lot of things are blocked if you are outside of the US. A lot of newspapers can't be read anymore, streaming videos and live news is blocked. Best to plan ahead and just open new accounts in the UK.
- Pay attention to the changes in immigration (this forum is a good place to start) because things can change fast and impact your applications. She will need her first 2.5 year visa, her second 2.5 year visa and then her settled status (ILR). It's probably a good idea to open a joint savings account and start tucking away money right away every month to ease the pain a little.
- Have her bring her dental and health records with her so she can refer to them if needed.
- Help her get into a routine as soon as possible (any kind of routine) so she isn't sitting around worrying if she hasn't found a job straight away or made friends as quickly as she hoped.
- Don't forget to thank her a million times over for leaving her life behind. She won't feel it so much in the beginning because marriage is so thrilling and exciting -- but there will be days when her heart longs for familiar things, no matter how much she loves you. So be thoughtful of her feelings on those days. Changes (even happy ones) can be rough.
Hi, thank you so much for your message. Lots of really helpful things in there and we immensely appreciate the help! Apologies for very belatedly replying myself; as I mentioned in another reply above, I've had a slightly hectic Xmas/New Year's due to work commitments.
My wife has now submitted her passport renewal, and we are hoping to get this back in the next 2-3 weeks. Drivers licence and social security have already been completed and issued. As I mentioned in my reply below, do you know if we can start the application now/this week whilst we are waiting for the new passport to arrive, or does the application require information/proof of the passport at a very early stage? Hoping to crack on asap and I have a slightly quieter period at work coming up (in theory).
-Once the passport has arrived then all her documentation should be valid for the duration of the visa/ILR process.
-On bank accounts, my wife will be keeping a small amount in her US one, but this is more to keep it open for when she visits family, than anything else. I'll be looking at joint bank accounts this week; can I open this without my wife being in country?
-I currently live and work in London, and commute centrally. As such, I don't currently own a car, and only periodically need to rent/use a family member's. I'm sure we'll get driving lessons booked, but as we will be staying in London initially, I imagine we'll tackle this at a later point (I would think London is not the best place to learn to drive in a new country!)
-My wife and I are currently researching career options over here and working on her CV; the hope is we can start sending applications out in the next month or two. My wife has a biochem major, and I have a friend who works in the field and has been offering advice.
-My wife has a few friends/acquaintances that already study here, and they have offered to help with the adjustment. Thankfully, my family and friends also get on really well with my wife, and they've very much become 'our' friends and family over the past few years. My wife has visited the UK about 7-8 times now, and is pretty well versed in the cultural differences- though obviously moving is a much bigger step!
-We're already saving for the various visa fees and ILR applications, and thanks for the suggestion on monitoring changes here; I'll definitely aim to be more active going forward!
-Great suggestion on the health/dental records, I'll forward this across to my wife.
-I'm committed to making the transition as easy as I can, but I am incredibly grateful that my wife is willing to make such a huge change and I already thank her as often as I can. I'm sure there will be some bumps, but we work as a team and I'm confident that we can overcome any difficulties in the move and thereafter.
Thank you again for all of your suggestions above; I'm sure I'll be posting some more (hopefully not too trivial) questions in the coming weeks and months.
Happy New Year!