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How long for UK residency after marriage
November 16, 2008 8:09 AM   Subscribe

He's British, I'm not. I plan to travel to London on a fiancee visa so we can get married. How long does it take after the wedding for the visa extention/ work permit to arrive?

Once we get our wedding registered and the applications sent off, I'd like to have a sense of just how long before I can start looking for work/ stop mooching off the poor guy/ watch my savings dwindle in the face of a 1:140 exchange rate. This is, of course, in the UK.

Bonus questions:

- How invasive/ irritating is the process? Applying for the fiancee visa was an enterprise in itself.

- For anyone else from the dark side of the world: does travelling get easier afterwards? Can't say I'd miss the suspicious looks and disbelieving interrogations that come with the ghetto (non-EU/US etc) line at Immigration, while my young man breezes through.
posted by tavegyl to Travel & Transportation around United Kingdom (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
"For anyone else from the dark side of the world: does travelling get easier afterwards? Can't say I'd miss the suspicious looks and disbelieving interrogations that come with the ghetto (non-EU/US etc) line at Immigration, while my young man breezes through."

You'll still have to use the non-EU lines, at least until you get a British (or EU nation) passport.

I've been in London since 1997, on Indefinite Leave to Remain, and the Immigration officers seem to cycle between pleasant and indifferent ("hello", stamp stamp, "goodbye") to pleasant and curious ("Hello. Why did you qualify for Indefinite Leave?" "When did you qualify for Indefinite Leave?", stamp stamp, "goodbye").

Your visa will go into your US passport. You'll still have to fill out the landing card, but I usually put the card in my passport on the page where the visa is - speed things up (also, my Indefinite Leave is in my old passport, meaning I have to present three travel documents at Immigration).

If you're traveling via the bigger airports (Heathrow, Gatwick) get Iris scanning setup; takes ten minutes or so to register and then entry in the country is just a minute or two with the machine while it convinces itself you are who your passport claims you are. Rarely a queue and in fact I almost always beat my wife, who travels on a Dutch / EU passport, through to luggage pickup.
posted by Mutant at 8:47 AM on November 16, 2008


I've just done what you are about to do.

If you go into the home office and pay extra, you can get your ILR on the same day. If you do it by post, it takes 4-14 weeks. We went in to get mine immediately, but a friend did hers by post and got it in two weeks.

The process is irritating, just like with your finacee visa. Sorry. Just double check everything and be patient and all will be well.
posted by Specklet at 10:15 AM on November 16, 2008


The suspicious looks and disbelieving interrogations definitely don't go away. Some customs officials let you go through the EU line together, some split you up. If you travel through Heathrow, expect the worst, always.
posted by scruss at 11:10 AM on November 16, 2008


I've gone through this process; here are a few comments based on my own experiences:

- Applying for Limited Leave to Remain as the spouse of a British citizen is a lot less hassle than applying for a Fiancee visa, as by that stage you've already cleared most of the hurdles (i.e. proven the relationship is genuine and that your partner can support you financially). But it's much more expensive.

- You have the option of submitting your application by post, with a turn-around time of up to twelve weeks (though anecdotally it's processed much quicker than that) for £350, or in person at the Croydon office for a same-day service at £500. Once you have the visa in your passport, you will be eligible to work in the UK. Personally, I chose the same day service as I figured the extra cost would be offset by earnings.

- As soon as you have the visa, apply for a National Insurance Number. You'll be permitted to work without one, but will be charged a punitive tax rate. (Also, as soon as you have a NIN, get yourself registered with your local GP straight away.)

- I always use the non-EU queue at passport control, as I have an Australian passport. I have been told FOUR TIMES, by friendly immigration officers (while happily stamping my passport), "You know, you could've gone through the other gate with your husband!". Yet on the two occasions I attempted this, grumpy officers told me off and sent me back to the non-EU line. So now I just go to the non-EU line as a matter of course, and when told "You could've gone in the other queue" I reply cheerfully, "Oh really? I'll try that next time!"

- On the plus side, the Non-EU queue is always the shortest of the two on flights from other EU countries into the UK. Last month on our way back from Dublin, my husband had about a hundred people ahead of him in his queue, and I had three!

If you have any other concerns or queries, about immigration into the UK, feel free to MeMail me. I have just received my Unlimited Leave to Remain stamp, and am happy to impart any of my hard-won knowledge.
posted by hot soup girl at 12:53 PM on November 16, 2008


- applying for FLR (M) is pretty simple, but annoying. get the same day service at Croydon (or other PEO) if you can, as it's worth it.

- KEEP EVERY PIECE OF MAIL FOR THE NEXT 2 YEARS!! you will need lots of documentation (20 pieces) for your Indefinite Leave to Remain (the "permanent residency" visa which comes 2 years after your initial spouse visa).

- when travelling with your spouse, you can both go through the EU queue

- (Also, as soon as you have a NIN, get yourself registered with your local GP straight away.) actually, you're entitled to register with a GP as soon as you land. anyone intending to live permanently in the UK is entitled to health care as soon as they move over.

- get the citizenship and maroon passport as soon as possible after your ILR. the rules on this keep changing/getting tougher, and it'd suck to have to jump through more hoops later. you can keep your US (or Canadian) citizenship, and don't have to give it up.
posted by wayward vagabond at 1:27 PM on November 16, 2008


actually, you're entitled to register with a GP as soon as you land. anyone intending to live permanently in the UK is entitled to health care as soon as they move over.

I stand corrected.
posted by hot soup girl at 3:21 PM on November 16, 2008


Wow, thanks MeFi. Lots of great answers and advice. I feel a little more confident of pitting true lurve against the visa man.

Thanks for the tips on iris scanning and actually keeping my mail, Mutant and wayward vagabond. I hadn't thought of them at all. As a leprous Pakistani, these concerns are cranked up several notches, so it's lovely to get tips.
posted by tavegyl at 6:46 PM on November 16, 2008


Hello, my wife and I went through this process last year. We are on the way to SET - M (aka the Indefinite Leave to Remain) next year, and are heartily sick of all the mail we're having to collect to do it!

Basically, you're over the worst of it in terms of invasiveness - getting the fiancee visa gets over most of the hurdles in terms of proving your relationship is real, etc.

To do the FLR (M) visa by post is currently £395 by post and £595 in person. I would recommend doing it in person, as if you're missing anything they can turn you back before you've paid for it so you can nip home and reschedule, whereas doing that by post could be a major PITA. For instance, I was supposed to bring 3 months worth of payslips to prove my income, but misread it and only brought one. However, I successfully argued that the letter from my work stating full salary should be enough, and we got it the same day.

Once your documents are checked over, they send you upstairs to pay, then you take a seat and wait for an officer to call your case. Our case officer looked through everything, told us to come back in an hour and off we went.

We came back and were handed her passport and all of our documentation and a letter welcoming her to Britain. Job done.

From the time that she landed to the time that she was able to work was a hair over a month and a half, but we literally zipped through the whole process - married two weeks after she landed, a week honeymoon (in Cornwall), make appointment, bam.

Throughout the process, we found the forums at UK Yankee incredibly useful. From an American perspective, but nearly all of the visa/residency advice holds true for any nationality.

One thing to definitely think about is getting a new passport in your married name immediately after getting married, and then using that new passport to get your FLR - M, although my wife has been travelling to and from the US on her maiden name passport with no problems.

Also, don't be too intimidated by Lunar House, the Croydon office you will likely go to to get your visa. The outside of it is a bit grim and it's very bureaucratic and slightly depressing, but you only have to go there twice.

Good luck, feel free to MeFi Mail if you have any further questions.
posted by Happy Dave at 2:49 AM on November 17, 2008


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