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Repatriation

UK Spouse visa for AU - options and gotchas sought

Here's where to discuss the practicalities and issues involved in moving back to the UK.

UK Spouse visa for AU - options and gotchas sought

Postby jedd » Mon 24 Nov 2008 23:24 GMT

Howdi,

A really easy set of four questions about, ultimately, getting our visa situation sorted so we can live and work in the UK.

My SO (AU citizen) and myself (UK citizen) have been together (mostly in AU) for 7 years. She's on a working visa at the moment, but it expires shortly. She's past the age where she could conveniently renew this, and she's in an industry that, despite being high demand (secondary science teacher) doesn't pay enough to consider a Tier 1 application. We looked at de facto visas, but the UK gov requires some pretty onerous documentation (I've gone through the forums here and see this has bit a lot of others on the bum too - JBA's, proof of co-habitation for some years, utility bills to certain addresses, and so on - all things we can't prove, and a wad of stat decs bizarrely won't suffice).

Because alternative options aren't viable, we're considering getting married. It appeals to the cynical side of my brain to perform this act for this reason, after several years of steadfastly ignored pressure from both families and friends, plus there's something vaguely romantic about recursively eloping, and to be candid it'll make the gal happier than a pig in the proverbial.

Question 1 then becomes - is there a US (Vegas) - style country in or near the EU that can do this conveniently and quickly and cheaply and (from the UK gov's POV) legitimately? I narrowed down EU countries to Denmark, basically, but they're booked out until February or March. Other countries (Spain, f.e.) require a lengthy stay - in the order of months - before they'll let you marry there.

A corollary of question 1 is - has anyone had challenges to various east-coast US supplied marriage certificates? We've read that there's a few key spots that people use over there. A friend in Spain told me that she (Spanish) and her hubby (US) had had some small amount of grief in Spain when they used their Vegas-provided, Elvis-signed, marriage certificate.

Question 2 is how much pain have others had with their non-UK citizen partners coming back in on a tourist visa when either:
a) they've just departed a week or two earlier, after their working holiday visa expired,
b) they try to apply (while on the tourist / visitor visa) for something more serious, like a spouse visa?

I've heard rumours that they'll kick you out of the country if you even try to do (b) - but that makes zero sense to me. We were told at the airport the last time we came in that she'd probably be rejected for a tourist visa, as per (a) above, because Immigration would 'believe she would try to work'. Guilty until you can prove your innocence, and insert all the references to the Napoloeonic code you want here.

I've also been reading on the various gov.uk sites that to apply for a spouse visa, you and your partner need to prove that you are in a non-share accommodation arrangement, have enough money to provide without drawing on public funds, and so on. I'm not sure how you do that, absent one of the people (ie. half your 'couple income' is out of the country, pending visa approval). OTOH, I've read from another friend that they got the first 6-month visa pretty easily, it was the subsequent 2year extension that was more difficult to get.

Question 3 then is what kind of hoops have others had to jump through, is it as bad as I've read (both on BE and elsewhere - lots of people have expressed angst at the pain involved) or am I worrying too much? What kind of timeframe is typical, and what level of paperwork is required? I understand there's about 1500 GBP involved in the visa app itself.

Question 4 would be to confirm or comment on my summary of understanding. From everything I've read so far, we should duck out of the UK, either to somewhere in the EU or somewhere else - it doesn't really matter, then get married, and then shack up together in a big city, somewhere near a British embassy and apply for a spouse visa, and only return to the UK once that visa has been granted.

My mini-rant follows - I just want to vent - you can safely stop reading right here.

My gal and I are highly skilled (in the literal, if not the visa, sense). She's got two degrees, a masters, and a dip ed, and works in a field that's crying out for people, both here in the UK and back in AU. It seems grossly disingenuous for the UK to arbitrarily reject her skills simply because of their own policy of under-paying teachers. She got grief at the airport because she hadn't landed on the 2-year working visa during the first half of that visa. Seriously rude and inexplicable grief. I understand that the Immigration department in the UK is under all kinds of pressure, and there's further conflict between commonwealth / empire loyalties versus EU loyalties versus a myriad of other subtexts - but it's still a pretty ordinary state of affairs, I think. Even less comprehensible is the power that any given immigration officer has at the airport, if the last one is to be believed. The guilty until proven innocent thing is mind-blowing. If my gal came in on a tourist visa, there's no way in hell she'd work while she was here simply because it's illegal. (The fact that if she was caught it'd cause a world of pain really is secondary there.) But our interest in doing the right thing, keeping with the letter of the law as well as the spirit, seems to be regarded as a would-be subversive act.
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Postby gozomark » Tue 25 Nov 2008 10:26 GMT

where are you both living now ?
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Postby jedd » Tue 25 Nov 2008 10:51 GMT

Right now .. we're in London, UK.
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Postby gozomark » Tue 25 Nov 2008 10:57 GMT

my wife (Japanese) and I (UK) got married in UK 15 years ago - she had to apply for a fiancee visa outside of the UK. 2(b) was a definite no no back then, and I'd presume is the same now. She applied in Japan, got the visa in a week or so, and was all OK after that
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Postby jedd » Tue 25 Nov 2008 15:01 GMT

Ah, cool, thanks for that.

There are changes quite frequently apparently now - the most recent came in during October of this year, for example, affected Tier-1 applications. I have about four friends going through the process for solo-entry visas, and part of their fun is just keeping up with the changes.
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