Weekend Wedding Planning: Visa Applications

*my passports from 3 years old to now
Throughout my wedding planning there is an overhanging sense of fear that the wedding won't be on the date we've chosen or in the place we desire. In order to marry in Northern Ireland I need a fiancĂ© visa. Following that, to stay and live there I will have to reapply after the wedding for a residence marriage visa. As I plan the wedding thinking about fun details like hair and dresses, I’m also researching visas, starting an online application, and collecting all the information I need to convince a board that my relationship is legitimate and I should be granted permission to move to NI. I worry that as much as I plan and prepare, certain elements are out of my hands and it is pretty scary. There is the odd chance that we won’t be able to use the venue we booked and my moving to Northern Ireland could be delayed. In addition to our plans and goals for the next year we have to make back-up plans and brainstorm solutions to potential problems.

On the one hand there’s no special reason to assume that Thomas and I will be denied, but on the flip-side we simply do not have control. It’s weird that something as commonplace as getting married and moving in with your husband isn’t entirely a decision made by the two of you but something a board of strangers will have the final verdict on. It's an awkward process to ask for letters from friends and relatives detailing why they believe our relationship is legitimate. The paperwork itself sometimes seems tricky—a fiancĂ© visa is good for six months so we can’t apply too early or it will expire before our chosen wedding date, but if we leave it until too late and some small error on the application means we need to re-apply, approval could come too late for the date we booked. I get worried as much about having the correct wording on my application as the facts themselves; I’d hate for a denial to come down to a misspelled name or misunderstanding.

Anyway, my weekend wedding planning posts from here on will focus on the more fun details I’m figuring out but I felt like at least one post about the trickier aspects of an International wedding was necessary. This is a very fun and exciting time, but there are also days when we’re talking to lawyers and I get worried about our future together being delayed. I’ll be happy to share my visa experiences at the end of this journey is anyone is curious or would find it helpful, but for now I'm going to try to focus on worrying less and doing more.


Emily said...

Visa applications were scary for my husband and I as well. I was a PhD student in Exeter, England with a student visa when my husband and I decided to get married. My husband was living in London at the time and we were planning to finally live in London together when I finished my course (which was about 5 months after we got married). When I was applying for the change from student visa to spousal visa, the UKBA ended up asking us for a tonne of extra information proving our relationship was legitimate because we were living apart. Living apart isn't super uncommon in academia, but I think it is for a lot of people! We ended up having to send in phone records, train tickets, letters from my supervisor and pictures from our wedding. But thankfully, everything was okay!

Good luck with the application. I know it is nerve-wracking, but I'm sure you will be fine. And you seem to have quite a few American expats following your blog if you need any advice. :)


CatNap said...

We just did this last year and have helped two of our friends through the process this year- if you have any questions feel free to shoot me a message :) it's a lot less terrifying than what it seems on the (totally unorganised and confusing) website :)

Shani Phillips said...

Longtime follower of your blog...

I immigrated to marry my American husband from Canada and just got my green card in the mail two weeks ago for permanent residency.

We had to trudge the same path with the gathering of evidence, endless applications, interviews, a biometrics appointment. On and on it went. I got my fiance visa and moved to Texas, got married, and applied for the adjustment from there.

Looking back it was very scary, and for all the reasons you listed. But there's no reason you will be denied--they will see it is a legitimate relationship. Just deal with it as it comes, this part of it will be a tiny obstacle to a life-long partnership!

Tessa said...

Good luck with your application, applying for a visa is so stressful! I had to apply for a work visa for Germany a couple of years ago, and even though you can follow the processes perfectly you never really know if you'll be successful.

Bramble & Thorn

Norbyah Nolasco said...

i had the same issues when i was planning my wedding, too. only all my work sort of came after the deed was done. my husband is american and i was living in the US on a student visa. nothing like the stress of planning a wedding that rolls right into the stress of filling out so many forms to apply for a green card as sponsored by my new husband. oh, and the wait. it took us three years, in the end. but i think the UK has that part sorted out better than in the US. good luck with it all! such an exciting time.

Rachel said...

I went through the process of applying for a spousal visa in the UK quite recently. It's a stressful experience, and definitely makes you wonder about the complicated nature of international relationships. I was lucky not to have my relationship scrutinised, but it was pretty horrible in other ways (our initial application was denied and I had to go through an appeal). The whole process took around 11 months and it was not fun to be in limbo for that long. Good luck with your Visa application, and I hope you have a wonderful wedding. I sincerely that hope you and Thomas have a smoother journey than I did, but if not, stay hopeful since it tends to work out in the end!

Christiana said...

Like other commenters, I know what you're going through! My husband emigrated here from England on a fiance visa. But it sounds like you know what you're doing - if we managed it without a lawyer, you'll be fine with one!

I'll be praying that everything goes smoothly for you :)

Damaris // The cat, you and us said...

I have not been through an international marriage but I can now see how stressful it may be in addition to the regular nerves & work to do. Wish you a very smooth process Rebecca! All my best wishes! I'm sure it is quite obvious that it is legitimate and they can check the blog also to see it in case there is any doubt left :) I know you are more worried about misspelling and this kind of problems than any other thing. Just to raise a smile, we brought my father-in-law as a testimony in order to get the marriage permit but as he is quite forgetful he couldn't answer any of the questions about me right although they were as simple as "how many years ago she was introduced to the family?" or "which is her middle name?" hahhaha :)

Molly S. said...

My boyfriend and I are starting to go through the same process, he's Scottish and I'm Australian. I'm lucky in that I also hold a British passport so I've just moved to Scotland to stay with him- but our hearts are set on going back to Australia. We've begun to collect 'evidence' of our relationship, plane tickets, skype calls, photos, bank details and joint accounts.. etc etc. Scary stuff, but I'm sure it will all work out in the end. Best of luck for the future to you and Thomas!