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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The Story:

Submitted online form + paid the 'Priority Fee' - 01 April.

Did Biometrics - 07 April.

Accepted at the UK Embassy Private Bag in NZ - 21 April (Squeaked in re: getting it in within 14 days of biometrics!)

Got email confirmation of a decision on the visa from UKBA Manila - 23 April (they did not say yes or no - feared the worst as it was only 2DAYS(!!!!) after the application was in the private bag in NZ.

Got my package via courier this morning - 29 April - SUCCESSFUL APPLICATION!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So - from sending, to getting my visa/decision took - 2 DAYS!!! Insane. From dropping it to the post office here in NZ, to it getting to Manila, to them looking at my 3 inch high pile of documents, and printing, and affixing the visa in my passport - it was 2 days. The visa is stamped as valid from 230415. This must be record.

Both my wife and I are understandibly HAPPY. Ecstatic. I am here to both outline what we did, and to GIVE HUGE THANKS to expatforum community - who are extremely instrumental in helping to navigate an almost purposefully obtuse, murky and confusing process.

A huge thanks goes out to Philip our Visa Advisor, who is worth his weight in Gold. I am not sure if we are allowed to name his company on this site, but I do have to mention his name as without him we would have been almost doomed due to the confusing nature of UKBA online guidance.

We did not do the full on service, as we had to submit from NZ, and it was best to do it from here. We put our documents together under advice and had a once over, once they were there. DEFINITELY worth every penny, having professional help in looking over what your doing. You definitely get swamped by the myriad of things needed.

It was NOT plain sailing - we decided to get married in NZ (far easier and less hurdles than UK) it took 3 days from notifying/getting licence to being married. We got our marriage Certificate while we waited a few days later. Our biggest problems were to keep the UK documents less than 28 days old so they were 'current' - we had to hold back as a new Notarised passport copy had ot be done, as well as a new employers letter, and also had ot wait until the start of the month for the new up to date bank statements + payslip were generated. We also had a major hurdle with our flat in the UK needing to be resigned for the lease on the 17th April, for that to be current (I was in the UK - so some 'creative solutions' had to be found to get over that hurdle..) Whilst that was being sorted, my 2 week window for the Biometrics was tick tick ticking away..

All's well. that ends well.. as they say.

THE APPLICATION:

Here is the cover sheet index for the application:

MARC S****** – SETTLEMENT APPLICATION

SECTION 1: IDENTIFICATION + APPLICATION/APPENDIX 2

1.1 APPLICATION+APPENDIX 2
a. VFS Global Priority Service receipt.
b. Biometric Appointment confirmation form.
c. VAF4 online form.
d. Additional info – List of all passport entries over last 10 years.
e. Additional info – 2007 UK entry problem documents.
f. Immigration Health Surcharge Reference number.
g. Appendix 2 form.

1.2 APPLICANT ID – MARC S********
a. Passport images.
b. Full Birth Cert. + copy.
c. Last Tier 5 C.o.S.
d. Passport – old.
e. Passport - current .

1.3 SPONSOR ID – MARY W********
a. Passport - Notarised copy.
b. Full Birth Cert. + copy.
c. Passport – old.

SECTION 2: RELATIONSHIP

2.1 MARRIAGE DOCUMENTATION
a. Marriage Certificate + copy.
b. Marriage Licence.
c. Photographs of Wedding Day x 6.
d. Divorce Certificate + copy (Original Koseki + English translation).
e. Prev. Marriage Certificate + copy (Original Koseki + English translation).

2.2 EVIDENCE OF RELATIONSHIP
a. Photographs with each others families x5.
b. Trips together 2009-15 (photos/flights/passport stamps)
c. Phone Logs – calls to each other.
d. Support letter – Mary W******.
e. Support Letter – Marc S****.
f. Engagement Ring – Receipt + Valuation.
g. Proof of sharing same address (Council Tax/RAC/utilities)

SECTION 3: PROOF OF MAINTENANCE

3.1 SPONSORS EMPLOYMENT EVIDENCE + INCOME
a. Letter of Employment.
b. Employment Contract.
c. P60.
d. Payment records (Payslips).
e. Bank Statements (Sponsor).

SECTION 4: PLANNED ARRIVAL & ACCOMMODATION

4.1 ACCOMMODATION
a. Flight Itinerary to UK.
b. Property Inspection Report.
c. Proof of Address – Council Tax Bill.
d. Tenancy Deposit Certificate.
e. Accomodation Rental Agreement.

I put the whole applcation in a cardboard box folder - one of those storage ones you buy as a pre-scored cardboard sheet you fold together. I printed this out and put it on the front:

**P R I O R I T Y V I S A S E R V I C E F E E P A I D **

MARC S***** – APPLICATION:
UK SETTLEMENT – SPOUSE
Return address:
7 G*******
Titirangi, Auckland
NEW ZEALAND
Contact:
Marc S*****
+64 21 298*******
marcs*******@gmail.com

**P R I O R I T Y V I S A S E R V I C E F E E P A I D **

I then put the list of contents from before in. I put each section loose but clamped with a bull dog clip, each with its own table of contents, as you can see above.

Everyone will have different things (I have been living in the UK for 7 years on Work Visas
(which dont count for residency BTW) and had a previous marriage - so my CoS (cerificate of Sponsorship/ divorce decrees) etc are in there).. For all my past trips with my GF (now Wife) I did colour scans from our passports, to an A4 bit of paper, then paper clipped a photo of us at the location together, and where possible a flight itinerary or hotel booking print out to it. I put copies of all the marriage/divorce/birth cert. documents paper clipped behind the originals. I made it VERY clear, concise and easy to see what was where. On each of the section index pages - I copied the barcode and application number from the online application, that you print out - I also put this on the front of the box page too.

As they say, proof is in the pudding - the burden is on you to over egg the custard as it were.. getting this adjudged with in two days of sending is INSANE. But it happened. Even with my having been given deportation papers over my not having my work permit number on me in 2007 (it got sorted the next day - but it was a red light with my passport from then on with the UK and Irish border staff). I had a copy of my work permit + a scan of the entry permit pertaining to it.. and also a letter from my employer outlining what happend. Again - I went to pains to show what happened - and no problems here..

My sum advice:

1 - Immigration adviser - YES. Even though myself and my wife are reasonably on to it, and I have been across the whole immigration thing in the UK since 2000, and are pretty up on what is what - having someone who does it for a living is gold. End of the day - you WANT that visa, and make it easy on yourself. Also - anyone who has been doing this in 2015 - there have ben a raft of changes this year - they are tightening up on letting people in.


2 -Check Check Check again!!!
MAKE SURE you have everything. Everything on the online form is NEEDED. It is easier to keep on top if you A) have an adviser and B) be organised - have a checklist - and CHECK.
CHECK - how old the documents are - DONT get notarised forms until theend of the month when your payslips/bank accounts are being generated - also make sure that your lease agreements etc are not coming up as your getting the application in. Dont do the biometrics UNTIL EVERYTHING else is sorted. it almost screwed us.

3 - OVER DO IT!!
I noticed on getting my stuff back - they didn't even look at a lot of stuff ( evidenced by the paper clips not being taken off some documents).
This means that they just checked the essential stuff, and went 'we believe you!!' on the rest!
Well - over do the evidence in type not volume. We did 5 or 6 pictures only of the wedding, and of us with eachothers families - but we did do Skype logs, full print out of cell phone logs, and the like too. Variety. Also put in the engagement ring insurance certificate + reciept. The TV licence bill. The RAC break down service agreement with both names on..
A lot of little things that show we are in a real relationship. If your thinking of going the spouse route in the next year - DO think of this evidence - the more you can show the better. Think about doing things in shared names, if your in different countries - phone/skype logs are great. Sending POSTCARDS too, if there is a cost factor to using phones. Every little helps.

Well there you go - PLEASE FEEL FREE to reply back to this post and I will give advice and help where I can.. but most of all

DONT GIVE UP!!!!!!!!

The whole process makes you feel small, like a bit of crap on the shoe of BIG BROTHER - but don't lose sight of the fact that by just sticking in there and fighting the feeling of being swamped, of THE MAN wanting you to reduce your love, relationship, your passion for eachother your very WORTH to a pile of papers, you have a BETTER LIFE TO WIN - TOGETHER.
as we say in NZ - KIA KAHA - be STRONG.. The best thing about this process - is that you and your partner need ot work togather to make it HAPPEN - and it reaffirms what you have together :)
 

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Pleased for you.
But 3-inch document pile is surely an overkill. As you say, they didn't even look at many of your papers. A lot of people overdo communications record - I suspect the bulk of your pile was taken up by it. We say it should come to no more than 10-15 pages at most, representative samples every 6 months or so - enough to show you have kept in touch when apart.

Use of professional advisor is a personal thing. By all accounts you have found a good one - but there are many who aren't out there. We say that unless you have unusually complicated case involving previous visa denials, serious criminal convictions or children from previous relationships etc, most people should be able to do without paid help with the help of this forum and a lot of homework.

I am a believer in a streamlined application - containing all the required evidence in the proper format and timeframe, but nothing more. This has the best chance of success and will make the task of ECO easier. Of course to put such an application together requires knowledge and experience, but reading this forum and studying the .gov.uk site should prepare you for the task.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Joppa - I do agree re:simplification - most of my 'pile' was my + partners three months printed phone records, and the skype logs - not to forget the 15x trips we have done together over 2009-15 (passport scan + photo +other documentaion). Take most of this out and its down 1.5 inches.
I also agree that this forum - is GOLD. YES - I did have a good advisor - and I spent a lot of time looking for a good one - and in retrospect I could have done it without his help - but in honesty I needed someone to 'manage' me as I had to deal with UK documents, Japanese documents and NZ documents, and a marriage - it was not a very slim-lined application. I am sure most people are less complicated than I!

I put in my info list and methodology - in my case I had to put more in there than most.. if you are lucky enough to have a pretty straight forward application without divorces, past UK entry issues and a marriage in the middle - take out that stuff, put a little bit more in than the basics they ask for and you will be fine I reckon. Joppa is right.
 

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Hi marque vue - will it be possible to help with some of the questions on the VAF4A form as your advise and help would be very valuable please.

Just a quick question if someone is British and on the form it asks is your sponsor living in the UK if yes, when did he/she arrive in UK? - What would you write if they were born there?

Some of these questions although simple as it seems make you overthink them!
 

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Hi,
CONGRATS on your Visa, very exciting times.
Im just wondering if you think I should contact immigration as I put in my visa and did biometrics on the 29th April (wednesday) and now its the following Monday I havent received anything, not even an email to say they have received my application? I paid for priority...just wondering,..
Ta, and again, congrats!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Hi There,

So - did you do your online application, then you got a Biometrics appointment, then printed out the application, got your docs together and put it in?

If so, they wont tell you they recieved it. They will only let you know once a decision has been made. THe best call on sending is to make it a singed for/courier delivery, so you have notification they have recieved it.
 

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Hey,
Thanks for speedy reply! I did the online application, printed it out, then got an appointment and went in with the printed online application and did the bio-metrics. The appointment where I submitted my application and did bio metrics was last Wednesday, the 29th...they gave me the option of a courier but I just said I'd come back and pick it all up. Love the waiting game :(
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
was the place you did the biometrics, the place you drop the full completed application? Did you have supporting documents also ( evidence of relationship etc etc )?
 

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hey, yes, where I did the bio-metrics they also took my application and my health surcharge number and all my supporting documents. They said I would hear within 10 days, its only been 2 (lol) so I shouldnt be stressing yet...should I????
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Stress - NO.

Seriously - within ten days means that. Relax. My case was INSANELY fast - as normally it takes 4 days to Manila in a diplomatic bag from NZ, then it gets looked at - and it was all there done and dusted and on the way back within 2 days.

best to just chill out and think of other things :) An email will find its way to you in time...
 

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Thanks- you seem to have followed a different procedure as you did your bio metrics before you submitted your online application (printed)? Sorry for all the questions.
 

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Some people get emails and some don't. It's inconsistent. As far as processing time, 10 days is a guide. There is no guarantee that your visa will be processed in that time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Nyclon is correct - they AIM to get it done in ten working days - which is why its best to not concentrate on a reply every day.

My process was:

Submit online form and pay, from this I got the ability to book the biometrics.
Once the biometrics was booked - I paid the extra money for 'priority' service.
I had 2 weeks from sitting biometrics to submit my application - I had a ton of documents to get from the UK/ Japan etc, which is why I could not get it in the moment i had the biometrics done.
 

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Oh I see.. I put mine all in at the same time. I didn't know you could do that! anyway, I emailed them this morning and they just emailed me back saying my application is pending. PHEW. As the reply I got on Friday was that they hadn't even received my application, did a small panic as I assumed the worst and that it had gotten lost in the mail or fallen out of the postman's box and slid down a drain somewhere. All good tho. Thanks for your reply!
 

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OMG, I just got an email saying a decision has been made, oh more waiting, im losing my mind!!!!!!!!!! pretty quick tho, i emailed them yesterday and they had just received it so its either a big fat rejection or a big fat approval.
 

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could I ask another question please, would you need to add details about all your bank accounts that you hold? or could you just add details on one bank account? i have 3 different bank accounts, but i dont use or add anything in them as much compared to my main account. One account is my son's which is under my name and the other i dont really use for another bank. Is it acceptable to just to add details of my main bank account to which my salary goes into or do i have to mention all the accounts i ahave and provide bank statements for them to?

Many thanks,
 

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Account details

could I ask another question please, would you need to add details about all your bank accounts that you hold? or could you just add details on one bank account? i have 3 different bank accounts, but i dont use or add anything in them as much compared to my main account. One account is my son's which is under my name and the other i dont really use for another bank. Is it acceptable to just to add details of my main bank account to which my salary goes into or do i have to mention all the accounts i ahave and provide bank statements for them to?

Many thanks,

Hello,

I'm sure you'd just provide details of your main account which your salary goes into.
 
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