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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello All-

I just got a message about perhaps sharing my experiences in my first year in the UK.
Suffice to say, though the wait was excruciating this time last year, it was well worth it.
If you are waiting (which I did) or have been refused entry (which I was previously) don't give up hope. I would re-iterate what many have said before me; Joppa, Nyclon, West Coast Canadian girl and so many other Mods have been so helpful in my case and others: I would not have been successful without them.

Arrived at Heathrow last July with copies of my sponsor's financial situation, and other relevant information. In my case, the only thing I needed was my passport with my freshly minted visa inside. I was asked to sit in a waiting area while the Immigration Officer went and checked the validity of the Visa; because I had been refused entry previously (which was entirely my own fault and I was forthright and honest in my new application) I must have looked panic stricken. He looked at me and said "It's just a formality, everything will be fine."

Ten minutes later, I was reunited with my family after almost a year apart. It made every minute of doubt, every tearful FaceTime message with my children, every petty argument born out of frustration with my wife of 20 years worth it.

We had it pretty smooth as far as bank account (my wife had one already and was able to
add me on to hers.) It took about 3 weeks to get a National Insurance number, which along with the correct visa allowed me to work. I was able to get a job in my chosen field in less than three months. My family was already registered at a local Surgery (Dr.'s office) and I was fortunate to be accepted there as well after I applied for an NHS number successfully.

I am not generally a timid driver, but my first impression of driving in the UK was of abject
fear. We live in a small town in Essex where the roads are narrow, parents with baby strollers are within inches of the road, and roughly 2-5% of the rear view mirrors have been knocked off. Crazy. I drove on my American license for 8 months, then had to apply for
a provisional license, take a theory and hazard test, then an actually driving test. Again, from what I have learned here you can use your American license for up to a year from the timeyour visa is activated. I would suggest you do it at around 6 months: it takes a while to get the provisional license for ID purposes, and you need to hire a driver and a car to take the actual driving test. Just my 2 cents.

I actually work in Suffolk, and for 2 weeks I couldn't understand a word anyone said. Dialect, accent, whatever it was, and when I had to answer the phone, it was worse. Eventually it got better. The most disconcerting thing here in the beginning was people asking me if "I was alright." "You alright?"..."You alright?"..I came to find out this is the
equivalent of saying "How ya doing?"...not the fact that I had spinach in my teeth or I was bleeding out of a wound or anything.

I love the people here, love London and its various cultures. Love the uniforms in my kids schools. Love the emphasis on physical fitness in the schools. My kids take after their Mom so they are pretty bright and made friends right away. Very lucky.

As far as food goes, we live close to fresh strawberry and cherry and asparagus farms.
There are supermarkets like Sainsbury's and Waitrose and M&S similar to some of the
upscale supermarkets in the US. There are Costcos here, but few and far between. The closest we have found is a store called MACRO: if you have a big family this is the place to go. There are some other stores on the lower end but we were disappointed in some of the produce etc. Obviously, to each his own. We have been able to find most foods that
we had in the US, or reasonable facsimiles thereof. The only sticker shock for us was
peanut butter: £7 for JIF was killing me and I had to kick my habit.

One more thing: I have read some whining and griping about the £500 NHS surcharge which is now mandatory on Spouse visas. Unfortunately, I have had to avail myself of the NHS a few times, and I am sure that one ER visit in the states would far eclipse that amount. I have nothing but good things to say about the Health Care I have received in the UK. I have heard horror stories about wait times, etc, but in my experience the wait times were not excessive, and the care was top notch.

Enough of the rambling, but I hope this helps somebody.:plane:

Good Luck and enjoy every day!

TD
 

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Glad to see you stop by for a visit. Just a couple of days ago I was thinking about you and the trials you went through for your visa.

Fortunately my fiancé visa flew through, I'm here, married and on my FLR(M).

Good things come to those who wait! ;)
 

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Hello All-

The most disconcerting thing here in the beginning was people asking me if "I was alright." "You alright?"..."You alright?"..I came to find out this is the
equivalent of saying "How ya doing?"...not the fact that I had spinach in my teeth or I was bleeding out of a wound or anything.


TD
Haha! We live in Dorset and this was (an still is!) an odd one for me as well. YES I'm alright! :D Another is what I call the "telephone bye." People say "Bye!" in this incredibly happy voice at least three times before hanging up. I've started doing that myself because my husband said it might sound rude otherwise and now I've started doing it with my family and friends in the US, oh dear!

Nice to hear from you TouchlineDad! I often think of that horrible, no good, very bad time we all went through together last year (and for some of us the prior year or so before). Once I arrived, the trauma did fade almost immediately. It did take us some months to get over it completely, though, and realize that I was truly here to stay and to let go of the resentment of the immigration rules.

I love my new country and nothing compares with being able to live with my husband here. It was well worth all that we faced to get to this point. And for those still going through it, heed the advice of our amazing moderators and hang in there!

:cheer2::cheer2:
 

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Glad you have settled in so well! I've only been here for a few days and felt some pangs of homesickness yesterday. But I think it takes time settling in; it's such a huge move. Plus I missing my daughter as well. I will be picking her up in 2 weeks to move over and she will have an adjustment too as she moves here and will be attending a new school. I think I'll feel better once I have a job and start going out and meeting new people. I will be bringing my dog over this autumn as well so that will be good too. Thank goodness for Skype so I can keep in touch with my family back in the States!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Hallelr-

Glad you have settled in so well! I've only been here for a few days and felt some pangs of homesickness yesterday. But I think it takes time settling in; it's such a huge move. Plus I missing my daughter as well. I will be picking her up in 2 weeks to move over and she will have an adjustment too as she moves here and will be attending a new school. I think I'll feel better once I have a job and start going out and meeting new people. I will be bringing my dog over this autumn as well so that will be good too. Thank goodness for Skype so I can keep in touch with my family back in the States!
Honestly it took a while to feel "at home" here in the UK. Eventually I did, but it was a process of months, not weeks. Even though I knew it was where I needed/wanted to be, it was still quite an adjustment. In time, you will feel at home!
 

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Honestly it took a while to feel "at home" here in the UK. Eventually I did, but it was a process of months, not weeks. Even though I knew it was where I needed/wanted to be, it was still quite an adjustment. In time, you will feel at home!
Thank you for your perspective. Yes, it will take time. It's a beautiful place and I feel lucky to be here.
 

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Touchline Dad, it's great to hear that there's life after the visa process. :)

Regarding your experience with driving in the UK, is there anything that you wished you had known about the UK rules of the road before you did the UK driving tests?

Any tips on going through this process other than starting at the 6 month mark and not delaying?

Did you take any driving lessons to familiarise yourself to the road test?

Also, how different was the process of job search, interview, and hiring? We're you able to get a longer term or permanent contract?

There has not been anyone as good with emoticons on this forum as you! :D
 
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Hello!

I found your post really helpful and would appreciate your advice.

My application for a UK fiance visa was refused (too many successive visits). My fiance and I are planning to get married here in the US next month and then apply for me to settle with him in the UK afterward (spousal visa).

Did you really have to wait a whole year for your visa to go through? Why was that? :(

We know how important it is to get the application just perfect before sending so I would appreciate any knowledge and advice you might have for us. Thank you.

My fiance visa was refused :(
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Pallykin-

Touchline Dad, it's great to hear that there's life after the visa process. :)

Regarding your experience with driving in the UK, is there anything that you wished you had known about the UK rules of the road before you did the UK driving tests?

Any tips on going through this process other than starting at the 6 month mark and not delaying?

Did you take any driving lessons to familiarise yourself to the road test?

Also, how different was the process of job search, interview, and hiring? We're you able to get a longer term or permanent contract?

There has not been anyone as good with emoticons on this forum as you! :D

Pallykin-

The only tip I could give would be to ask the UK Government to drive on the same side of the road we did in the USA; but I don't think that will happen.

But seriously, eventually you get used to that part of it. The key to driving in the UK is to master the infamous "roundabout." It is actually a tremendous improvement over traffic signals and they normally keep the flow of traffic moving. In order to do that, I took 3-4 driving lessons for 2 hours each. The instructor has his/her own vehicle and I subsequently used that vehicle to take the driving test. Before that, you need to take a two part test on driving theory and hazards which you can practice for online.

Job search was very similar to the US- I used one of the more popular web searches and found some openings in my field. London salaries are much higher than Suffolk, but the cost of living in London is astronomical as well as the cost of commuting. Mass transit is much more expensive than I realized here than the States IMHO.

I have retired my use of mass emoticons as a reflection of my contentment at finally being here...I will occasionally sneak a few in..Hope that helps-:juggle::cheer2::yo:
 

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Glad you have settled in so well! I've only been here for a few days and felt some pangs of homesickness yesterday. But I think it takes time settling in; it's such a huge move. Plus I missing my daughter as well. I will be picking her up in 2 weeks to move over and she will have an adjustment too as she moves here and will be attending a new school. I think I'll feel better once I have a job and start going out and meeting new people. I will be bringing my dog over this autumn as well so that will be good too. Thank goodness for Skype so I can keep in touch with my family back in the States!
It will definitely take time to adjust so be kind to yourself! I am sure you will feel better when your daughter and dog are here to. I have moved several times and this time was the only occasion I did not need to adjust but I still miss my friends!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
Iarmflower

Hello!

I found your post really helpful and would appreciate your advice.

My application for a UK fiance visa was refused (too many successive visits). My fiance and I are planning to get married here in the US next month and then apply for me to settle with him in the UK afterward (spousal visa).

Did you really have to wait a whole year for your visa to go through? Why was that? :(

We know how important it is to get the application just perfect before sending so I would appreciate any knowledge and advice you might have for us. Thank you.

My fiance visa was refused :(

I will first say that I will gladly share my experience with you; but for any advice on your prior refusals are better dealt with by Nyclon, Joppa, West Coast Canadian Girl, Crawford, or any of the other moderators. Had I found this forum earlier, I would have saved about 4 months and a large sum of cash.

Without going into too much detail, I was refused entry into the UK initially. My wife and children went on to the UK to start the school year, (they all have dual US/UK citizenship) and I stayed behind to sell the house, cars, and tie up loose ends, etc. As a US citizen, I thought I was allowed to go to the UK for 6 months as a visitor, try to see what the proper
visa I needed etc. Unfortunately I had missed the part about still having ties to my home country: I had no place to live in the US when we sold everything, so UK Immigration had no choice but to send me back to the USA. Totally my fault. I got sent home and regrouped with relatives. Had I been a member of this forum at that point, I would have known that.

Then I applied for the wrong visa: I applied for a Family Visitor Visa, not a Spouse Visa.
I was refused again. On the rejection letter, the ECO wrote "You are migrant spouse of a UK Citizen. I think you will have a good chance of success if you apply for a Spouse Settlement
Visa as the visitor visa will only allow you to 6 months at a time." (Loosely paraphrased.)

Now keep in mind I have been rejected twice for a visa at this point, through my own ignorance and stupidity. There are also markings and stamps in my passport documenting these events.

Finally got it right the 3rd attempt: but we had to qualify using savings, and I had to let the ££££ stay in an account that my Wife had access to for 6 months with a substantial minimum balance.

The only advice I can give you, and I have seen this advice many time given by moderators is you have to be completely honest about your immigration history: don't offer more additional information than they ask for, but don't lie or be misleading because they will figure it out.

This forum has all the information you need about what is required as far as documentation. When you are ready to apply, I would make a list of the documentation you are sending, post it in a thread, and let the moderators cut it down or tell you what you are missing.

Good Luck!:plane:
 

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One more thing: I have read some whining and griping about the £500 NHS surcharge which is now mandatory on Spouse visas. Unfortunately, I have had to avail myself of the NHS a few times, and I am sure that one ER visit in the states would far eclipse that amount. I have nothing but good things to say about the Health Care I have received in the UK. I have heard horror stories about wait times, etc, but in my experience the wait times were not excessive, and the care was top notch.
True that. I entirely agree! One payment is worth it, vs the payments you have to pay here in the states. Wow. Even with insurance I cannot afford it!
Can't wait to pay the NHS their fee! :rolleyes:

Hopefully moving in with my love in his home in Scotland this autumn, exciting, but scary. Hoping to be as lucky as you!
Hope I can write something similar in a year! Haha.
 

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The key to driving in the UK is to master the infamous "roundabout."
Fortunately for me, Massachusetts is the only state (or so I hear), that has roundabouts, though they are called rotaries here. My worry would be going around a UK roundabout the wrong way... ours have counterclockwise flow, you see.:eek:
 
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Fortunately for me, Massachusetts is the only state (or so I hear), that has roundabouts, though they are called rotaries here. My worry would be going around a UK roundabout the wrong way... ours have counterclockwise flow, you see.:eek:
Maine has a few rotaries too, and most people avoid them like the plague. :D So, combine the US inexperience of rotaries with going in the opposite direction, on the opposite side of the road, and you can just imagine!!!

I have been here almost 2 years and don't intend to ever drive. There are enough public transport options to suit me. Now that I've turned 60, I've qualified for a free bus pass, so can travel anywhere in Scotland by bus for free. The trains are awesome and not too expensive so it's just easier for me to sit back and let someone who is used to things deal with it. :)
 

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Maine has a few rotaries too, and most people avoid them like the plague. :D So, combine the US inexperience of rotaries with going in the opposite direction, on the opposite side of the road, and you can just imagine!!!

I have been here almost 2 years and don't intend to ever drive. There are enough public transport options to suit me. Now that I've turned 60, I've qualified for a free bus pass, so can travel anywhere in Scotland by bus for free. The trains are awesome and not too expensive so it's just easier for me to sit back and let someone who is used to things deal with it. :)
I'm a huge fan of public transit, though I've got a few years to go to get to that magic 60. I'm keen to be able to visit France via the car train. There are loads of places I'd like to see in the UK as well that would be more easily done via car, even it was train to nearest city followed by car hire. I don't want to be shut out of driving.

Here's an article on Priority to the Right, a mind bending rule used on the continent:

La priorité Ã* droite‎ - priority to the right - News and information from France

Now I understand why traffic around the Arc de Triomphe looks so crazy!
 

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We have roundabouts in michigan, I dont have very much trouble with them. :) In some ways I prefer them to the hassle of the stop lights here.
 

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Thank you so much for posting... It is heartening to hear that you're getting on well! :)
 
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