UK/US marriage 2020

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UK/US marriage 2020


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Old 29th September 2019, 04:02 PM
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Default UK/US marriage 2020

Hi all,

A colleague previously in a similar situation mentioned this site as being a big help. Please let me know if I've misread any of the rules or posted in the wrong place.

Quick background: my fiancee and myself have been together just over six years (I popped the question last Nov). She's American and I'm British, and we met when I did a year of study abroad in the US. We're looking to legally marry late this year/early next, and then have the 'party' wedding later on with family, friends etc. This is so we can get started on the visa process and get her out here as soon as possible. I have a few questions that if anyone could give me some pointers on, would be an immense help.

1). Would it be easier for the visa process if we are married in the UK or the US? Most evidence I've found suggests the US is a cheaper and more straightforward option, but I wanted to check if there would be any impact on the visa process if we did the paperwork out there.

2). If we marry in the US, would it make more sense for my partner to apply from the US or the UK? If the latter, how does this work from an arriving in the UK perspective, i.e.: does she need to arrive on a tourist or other visa and then apply?

3). Would it be advisable to speak to an immigration lawyer? My colleague utilised what he called a 'half service' whereby he and his partner did the paperwork and just had the lawyer let them know what they needed to do and check their form over. I guess this question also boils down to, how arduous is the process? We have time and are willing to do it ourselves, but want to make sure we do it correctly.

4). How soon after (presumably) receiving the visa, can my partner both move over here, and then work?

5). What are the total cost estimates for the whole process? I'm aware of the base fees of 1033/1523, plus the health surcharge. Are there any further costs likely and if so what and how much should we expect?

Any further advice would be massively appreciated.

Hope everyone is having a good weekend!

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Old 29th September 2019, 04:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AS701 View Post
Hi all,

A colleague previously in a similar situation mentioned this site as being a big help. Please let me know if I've misread any of the rules or posted in the wrong place.

Quick background: my fiancee and myself have been together just over six years (I popped the question last Nov). She's American and I'm British, and we met when I did a year of study abroad in the US. We're looking to legally marry late this year/early next, and then have the 'party' wedding later on with family, friends etc. This is so we can get started on the visa process and get her out here as soon as possible. I have a few questions that if anyone could give me some pointers on, would be an immense help.

1). Would it be easier for the visa process if we are married in the UK or the US? Most evidence I've found suggests the US is a cheaper and more straightforward option, but I wanted to check if there would be any impact on the visa process if we did the paperwork out there.

2). If we marry in the US, would it make more sense for my partner to apply from the US or the UK? If the latter, how does this work from an arriving in the UK perspective, i.e.: does she need to arrive on a tourist or other visa and then apply?

3). Would it be advisable to speak to an immigration lawyer? My colleague utilised what he called a 'half service' whereby he and his partner did the paperwork and just had the lawyer let them know what they needed to do and check their form over. I guess this question also boils down to, how arduous is the process? We have time and are willing to do it ourselves, but want to make sure we do it correctly.

4). How soon after (presumably) receiving the visa, can my partner both move over here, and then work?

5). What are the total cost estimates for the whole process? I'm aware of the base fees of 1033/1523, plus the health surcharge. Are there any further costs likely and if so what and how much should we expect?

Any further advice would be massively appreciated.

Hope everyone is having a good weekend!

1. Yes, get married in the US. Then apply for the spouse visa for your wife
2. The spouse visa MUST be applied for from the US
3. Read the following website carefully to see how to apply:

https://www.gov.uk/uk-family-visa

If no 'skeletons' in the cupboard the completing of the online application should be straightforward also the submission of supporting documents. Many people do it themselves. Once submitted the process takes up to 3 months or you can pay extra for priority service.
4. Once approved you have 30 days to pick up the BRP document.
5. Visa fees and the NHS surcharge are the main expenses. Priority service is approx 800 GBP more and there might be expenses in getting all t he supporting documentation together.

__________________
I am not a regulated immigration advisor and am only providing my own personal views and opinions. This should not be relied upon as advice.
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Old 1st October 2019, 08:26 PM
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Thanks for the quick response, really appreciated. Just a quick few follow up questions.

1). Do I need to apply to for any sort of visa to get married in the US, or do I just go on an ESTA? I thought I'd read you have to declare that you are getting married at immigration.

2). On the 30 days collection front, this presents a slight problem in that my fiancee will likely still have some time on a rental agreement in the states. Could she come out to collect and then head back if needed? Or can I pick this up for her? On a related question, I assume once she has the visa she can come in and out of the UK normally, if say we go on holiday at all?

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Old 1st October 2019, 08:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crawford View Post
1. Yes, get married in the US. Then apply for the spouse visa for your wife
2. The spouse visa MUST be applied for from the US
3. Read the following website carefully to see how to apply:

If no 'skeletons' in the cupboard the completing of the online application should be straightforward also the submission of supporting documents. Many people do it themselves. Once submitted the process takes up to 3 months or you can pay extra for priority service.
4. Once approved you have 30 days to pick up the BRP document.
5. Visa fees and the NHS surcharge are the main expenses. Priority service is approx 800 GBP more and there might be expenses in getting all t he supporting documentation together.
Thanks for the quick response, really appreciated. Just a quick few follow up questions.

1). Do I need to apply to for any sort of visa to get married in the US, or do I just go on an ESTA? I thought I'd read you have to declare that you are getting married at immigration.

2). On the 30 days collection front, this presents a slight problem in that my fiancee will likely still have some time on a rental agreement in the states. Could she come out to collect and then head back if needed? Or can I pick this up for her? On a related question, I assume once she has the visa she can come in and out of the UK normally, if say we go on holiday at all?

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Old 1st October 2019, 08:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AS701 View Post
Thanks for the quick response, really appreciated. Just a quick few follow up questions.

1). Do I need to apply to for any sort of visa to get married in the US, or do I just go on an ESTA? I thought I'd read you have to declare that you are getting married at immigration.

2). On the 30 days collection front, this presents a slight problem in that my fiancee will likely still have some time on a rental agreement in the states. Could she come out to collect and then head back if needed? Or can I pick this up for her? On a related question, I assume once she has the visa she can come in and out of the UK normally, if say we go on holiday at all?
1. No visa necessary for marriage in the US. If you are specifically asked your reason for being in the US, you can say, marriage but MUST have proof of your returning to the UK following the marriage

2. Yes, she can fly in, get her BRP document and fly back out to complete whatever she needs to do. Yes, once the visa is issued she can go in and out of the UK for vacations.

__________________
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Old 7th December 2019, 01:33 PM
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Hi all,

Update on the above. We married in Colorado last week! I'm now back in the UK, and we're getting things together to start the visa application process. My wife is taking my last name (her choice) and is in the process of changing her legal name, so we can start the paperwork with her married name. This should take around 2 weeks to process.

My wife will also be renewing her passport with her married name (and as the photo is now around 7 years out of date). While this should only take a month to process (based on previous/family experience), it could hypothetically take up to 6 months. Does my wife need her new passport for us to start the visa process, or is the passport only required for entry into the UK once the visa has been (hopefully) issued?

Any other advice on this aspect greatly appreciated!

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Old 8th December 2019, 08:49 PM
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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.

AND CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!

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.
-
Whatshouldwedo and Rices like this.


Last edited by MrsScotland; 8th December 2019 at 09:16 PM.
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Old 9th December 2019, 09:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AS701 View Post
Hi all,

Update on the above. We married in Colorado last week! I'm now back in the UK, and we're getting things together to start the visa application process. My wife is taking my last name (her choice) and is in the process of changing her legal name, so we can start the paperwork with her married name. This should take around 2 weeks to process.

My wife will also be renewing her passport with her married name (and as the photo is now around 7 years out of date). While this should only take a month to process (based on previous/family experience), it could hypothetically take up to 6 months. Does my wife need her new passport for us to start the visa process, or is the passport only required for entry into the UK once the visa has been (hopefully) issued?

Any other advice on this aspect greatly appreciated!
Her visa will he issued in the name on her passport. If she wants her visa to be issued in her married name she will have to provide her new passport.

__________________
I am not a regulated immigration advisor. I am offering an opinion and not advice. Check here for professional help: https://www.gov.uk/find-an-immigration-adviser.
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Old 2nd January 2020, 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by nyclon View Post
Her visa will he issued in the name on her passport. If she wants her visa to be issued in her married name she will have to provide her new passport.
Thanks for the above, apologies, I realise my original message was not the clearest. My wife has applied for her new passport, and we have gone through the fast-track route that means it should hopefully be returned in the next 2-3 weeks. My question is, can we start the application before the new passport has been sent and issued? Basically, how early on in the process do you need any information/proof of the new passport? Of course we'll need this later on for issuance of the visa and actual entrance to the UK, but if possible I'd like to at least start the lengthy application process this week.

Thanks again for the reply, and apologies for the delay; perils of working long hours over Xmas/New Years.

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Old 2nd January 2020, 12:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrsScotland View Post
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.

AND CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!

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!

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