Getting a UK Visa as an American– the emotional turmoil

Posted on February 9, 2009 by peacefulyorkshire

yahooavatar15Over the past month, “Shes not From Yorkshire” put up a little poll asking you how much money you have spent on your UK visas so far.  We were not shocked that a whopping percent of you have spent so much on your visas that you don’t even keep tabs on it anymore. I would fall into that category, too–but I have calculated its been about 3,000 squid. I console myself by dividing how much I have spent on visas so far into monthly payments in my head. If I’ve been here for nearly 5 years, then I am renting out a life in Britain for about 50 quid a month. Somehow this makes me feel better. Well, its one way to look at it, right?

It is not only the money you need to save for (and then depart with) to get that little Visa page on your passport.  No, the cost sometimes takes form of other payment as well.

Other payments  include:

  • Nights when its 3:20am and you wake up thinking about if you will be approved before you next go home to the USA. Will it make that Christmas deadline?
  • Minutes and minutes  and seconds and minutes of waiting on hold to speak with someone at the Home Office to answer a question about what application version you need– because its changed yet again!
  • Tears of worry because you need to get 12 months of old bank statements and tax docs in 2 days (“if only I would have prepared better!” you say to yourself every time.).
  • Confusion about if you really want to stay in this country anyway and is it worth all the money (at 750 quid for my last one I had this thought a lot)
  • Arguing with your partner that he has no idea about the stress levels of applying and surely he can’t go to Tesco’s this time?
  • Imagining a big sweaty Visa Approval Bloke looking at your paperwork, and putting the words REJECTED in red ink, and having to move back to the USA– because he’s had a bad day.
  • Saying “Whats WRONG with this country?” around 1 time an hour when filling in the 78 page application.

I would say that the UK visa application process is a lot more “friendly” than trying to get into America. So, I feel lucky in that sense.

But… no matter where you are applying for your visa, its always an emotional experience. If you are in that process now, I can understand your pain, wherever you are!

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What Others Are Saying

  1. Pepper September 23, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    well-my story isnt a easy …here goes. I met my husband(ooo by the way I am a Texan,..USA) and hubby is from UK-england..met my hubby on myspace in Oct 2007. He came to Texas Nov 2007-with just his passport. We got married last year-1 year anniversay two days ago. He has not left USA. We know that he is banned for life. Our goal is to move to the uk, and fast.We know that he should be going home before I apply for the spousal visa. But of course we are scared to death that for some reason it will be rejected, he cant come here and once I give my notice at work (i am hotel general manager and live on site) I will have no home nor job.So we wanted to try to apply with him here. Does anyone have any advice?? We will live with his parents until we get jobs. We will have about 4k in the UK bank. please help!i cant sleep, I am going crazy. I research 12 hours out of the day looking for someone with a similar situation (hubby illegal etc). So ladies…and gents yall help! <3
    thanks for reading
    Pepper Ann

  2. pacificyorkshirebird September 8, 2009 at 4:54 am

    Hi Tracy and Brooke – Visas to go and live in the UK can be so confusing. I am not familiar with either of the two situations you refer to. I stayed an extra year on the Science and Engineering Graduate Scheme after completing a MSc in 2007. That programme no longer exists and was replaced with something else – but I have no idea what the situation with that is now. Then I received an unmarried partners visa based on having lived with Mr. Charismatic for 2 years (in the UK). That was certainly not free, but it allowed us plenty of time (2 years) to decide if we wanted to be married and I was free to work.

    A quick look on the visa website tells me that my experience is already totally out of date. Be careful about making your decisions on anything unconfirmed by the UK Border Agency. In my case it was pretty much always worth it to give them a call and ask them my questions before I made any decisions or sent any applications.

    Here is the website too:

    Good luck ladies!! We are behind you 100%

  3. Brooke September 5, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    Hi there! I am so glad that I found this site. I’m in the UK with my Irish husband. We were just married last month. I’ve been over on student visas for the last three years (fist two for my undergraduate and third for my post-graduate degree). My student visa expires at the end of Jan and I am looking into applying for a more permanent visa in order to live and work here with my husband. Should I be looking at the EEA2 or EEA4 visas? It is so, so confusing. Glad to see this blog and read about other American’s UK living experiences. Made me smile. Thanks!

  4. tracy June 2, 2009 at 5:34 am

    Wow. I’m so glad I found this site! My British husband and I are moving back to the UK this fall. We got married there in 2002 and lived there for 1 1/2 years. We’ve moved back to Seattle and are now planning on moving back to the UK permanently. Looking on the Home Office website seemed quite confusing as to what to apply for. Above, someone mentioned that if we can prove that we’ve been living together for over three years, then I can apply for free. Does anyone have any other info on that?

    Thank you!

  5. roya May 2, 2009 at 11:50 am

    I was contacted recently about the EU rules I wrote about in an earlier post on February 19.

    This form is to apply for a residence card. Depending on the time you can prove you were with your partner/husband/wife, you can either apply for a 3-year card or living here permanently. It’s pretty straightforward. Although, be warned they take your passport for a really long time.

    Form EEA2

  6. peacefulyorkshire April 6, 2009 at 7:48 am

    Hi Teri
    There should be an emotional support group for people who are applying for visas –as it is surely one of the most stressful things ever! I feel for you I can completely relate to the money lost, the waiting, hence the above post!! As for websites, the only one I know of is the actual government Home Office pages. Maybe our readers know others though?

    But in the meantime, here is another post that is about visas you might get a wee laugh out of (sounds like you need it poor you):

    Just so you know you are not alone in all this and us 3 women have had our share of visa troubles.
    Keep us updated!

  7. Teri April 6, 2009 at 5:50 am

    Oh my goodness, it is SO NICE to hear about other people having problems with UK visas. I was living in London with my boyfriend from June to December on a student visa (as I was a recent grad) and I have been stuck living at my parents’ house since then. My company completed “their portion” of the sponsoring process by January and I’m still here. Just got rejected for the third time. So sick of spending all of the money and checking my gmail like 7,894,785 times a day and dreaming of not seeing that “REJECTED” in red ink again and calling that awful, AWFUL $3/min hotline where the workers know NOTHING, have to look up every question in a book while the meter is basically running, and ultimately getting wrong answers that keep me in the US longer. Are there any other websites for support??? I feel SO ALONE with this process even with a British boyfriend and a British company to sponsor me…

  8. pacificyorkshirebird March 10, 2009 at 8:19 am

    Hi Mac,

    Sounds tricky and like you could use some time going over the UK immigration website (try googling Home Office) and maybe consult a lawyer/solicitor. We would not want to give you bad advice and every case is so unique so I don’t think we would be much help anyways.

    I really feel for you – visas are so frustrating sometimes. Hang in there and good luck to you and your fiance!

  9. Mac March 4, 2009 at 11:50 am

    Hello there, I am a U.S. citizen who has come to the UK to be with my fiance` and we want to get married here as well. I have been here for almost a month now and when I applied for my passport, I was unaware of the procedures to get a visa in order to get married, live in the UK indefinately.
    If at all possible, would someone please advise me of how I can apply for the proper visas while in the UK?.
    As it stands, I have been told that once my 6 months on my passport runs out I will have to go back to the US.
    I have sold everything I have to be with my fiance who is a UK resident and have no place to go to in the US.
    Please help!
    Thank You

  10. Okie in York February 27, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    My husband and I just received our new visas and it was better than Christmas, birthdays and Valentine’s combined. Such a huge relief after months of waiting and worrying. Why was it so stressful, you ask? Because, much like yankeebean’s situation, the Home Office changed the requirements for the visa in the brief interim between our advisement and application. I only wish I had found this blog while I was going through the process. It was nice to read that I wasn’t the only one having these problems. It’s even nicer to know that I’m not about to be deported back to the US! :)

  11. peacefulyorkshire February 23, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    Hi Roya- a Hawaiian gal– my gosh you must miss the sunshine! You must tell us about your experiences in the UK!
    Thanks for that tip about the visas! I actually did not know that– and here I thought I knew about every visa that was ever made! haha

    Hi Dominic–
    Your poor daughter in law– getting your UK visa is so stressful, please know that there is a lot of support from other Americans that have not only paid a lot of money for their visas, but have gone through similar emotional battles too.
    I will keep my fingers crossed that her c-section is smooth and that she is able to get to the Liverpool visa office ok, despite such a burden to deal with.
    Keep us updated!

  12. dominic February 19, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    Our daugther in law has been married to our son for over two years, we have a beautiful grandson and a grand daugther on the way ( by section on 12/3/09) because she hes a blood disorder,she is from Michigan and has been told she has to attend Liverpool passport office on 24/2/09 to renew her visa, at some substantial cost , (unknown at this moment ?) we live 30 miles from Liverpool and if we don’t arrange transport for our daugther in law she would have to travel by train, (more exspence !) she has already had to go to London to sort out her visa , and that cost £600 ! (not to mention travel and an overnight stay in London), as a British (Irish really) citizen my wife and I are not very happy as other “Imigrants” seem to find it very easy to enter “our” country and get all the benefits that go with it ! I would welcome any comments or advice from any of you please as we are so concerned about our daughter in law’s plight !

    thanks in anticipation of your response.


  13. roya February 19, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    Hi Girls,
    I love your blog! I’m a Hawaiian living in Manchester. I noticed this post about how expensive it is for a Visa. The cheapest option is to use a little known EU rule that applies to non-EU members cohabiting with EU members. Basically, if you can prove you have been married or cohabiting with a Brit, Irish citizen (or any other country in the EU) for over three years, you can apply free.

    And after five years you can apply for permanent residency. Both allow you to work and live in the UK. And you get a fun sticker in your passport too!

    Hope this helps someone since they don’t make it easy to find online.

  14. yankeebean February 14, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    When I applied for my first marriage visa – I called the home office to check that I was filling out the right form.

    When I sent the form in, it was sent back to me 3 MONTHS LATER rejected because the form had changed in the 2 WEEKS since I talked to the home office.

    Hysteria does even come CLOSE to describing what I felt at that moment. They made me re-apply, and wait another 3 months in un-employed limbo, but thank God they didn’t make me re-pay at least…

  15. fairornot February 9, 2009 at 11:15 am

    And as if all those emotional and financial issues weren’t enough, Home Offices goes and changes the rules every year, making that elusive settlement visa farther away. Making the changes retroactively and not honouring the previous agreements. Why oh why?

    An D. Immigrant

  16. peacefulyorkshire May 5, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    Thanks Roya for that info. we get a lot of questions on visa stuff and like most other people, we tend to feel clueless about it too…;)

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