5 Tips for Getting a UK Residence Visa
I never did think I would stay in the United Kingdom. The goal was to come for a year to complete a master’s degree and then go back to America and start my “real” life.
Once I arrived here, it only took me a month to get a part-time job to go along with my studies and within just a few months I had learned how to get around Bristol with ease, made a few friends, and fell into a routine. By the time the summer came, I was happy with the fact that mainland Europe was so close and cheap to get to, and that I had been offered a full time “grown-up” job with the company I was working for. That meant I needed to switch my visa category in order to stay.
I have gotten visas in many countries before but not in a country that was trying to keep out non-EU immigrants like the plague. Let’s just say the chips were not stacked in my favor. Now that I have been granted a residence visa for the UK, I’d like to share some tips on the process and maybe keep just one brave lady from a total breakdown which I eventually encountered due to the sheer stress!
Here are my top five tips on getting through the UK visa process in one piece.
5 Tips for Getting a UK Residence Visa
1. Thoroughly read the application.
I can’t stress this enough! Choose the application form which applies to you and then study it. Know this application like the back of your hand. Don’t rush this step, please! While reading the application start compiling a list of all the supporting documents you need for your application – I had 63 supporting documents, which took me over two months to gather. Read, gather, read, gather, read, and gather.
2. Make sure you qualify.
There is no point of spending your hard-earned money applying just to be denied. The rules are not flexible, people. The people down at immigration do not care if you will try really hard to get a job or what your reason is for not meeting the financial requirements. If you do not meet the minimum requirements – usually financial, education, and spousal related – just don’t bother. Wait until you do or be ready for a big disappointment. It sounds cut throat because it is, in 2013 the UK allowed 160,000 non-EU immigrants to enter across all immigration categories and in 2014 it was reduced to 100,000. Competition is fierce and they know this.
3. Be prepared to explain yourself.
Just having loads of supporting evidence and a good salary or job offer is simply not enough. You must be able to answer any and every question about your application situation at any given time. This is because they need to prove you are a genuine applicant and not trying to fraud the system (which you shouldn’t try to do as it is highly illegal and means facing being excluded from the country for at least 10 years). If there are holes in your application just explain them and don’t lie. The truth is the best option
4. Make sure you actually want to emigrate.
This is a big one. This process is not cheap by any means. It will cost you thousands of pounds in visas and so shouldn’t be taken lightly. Ask yourself, do I want to stay here a few years? Will I be able to afford going home to visit? What happens if I want to move? Will the fees leave me broke? Do I mind paying taxes in the UK knowing I won’t get them back? This is not a vacation, people, this is at least a few years of your life you are committing to living away from your home country. Think about it and the financial and mental stress involved in obtaining residency. Is it worth it?
5. Chill out.
Easier said than done, I know. I decided to spend more money to get my visa granted in person as the wait times can be upwards of nine months, and I wasn’t willing to go that long without my passport (Spain, here I come!). When I arrived in Cardiff for my visa appointment, I was a hot mess even though I knew I had everything they asked for and more. Ladies, if you’re prepared and follow all of the advice on the application form, there is no reason you shouldn’t get your visa. It’s as simple as that. Whether you decide to do your application in person or by mail, relax and just be prepared for any questions. Nothing will go wrong if you have done what you needed to do and especially if you have all the documents and requirements you are asked for in place.
I don’t want you to think that moving to the UK as a resident is easy for a Non-EU citizen because it’s not. But the process doesn’t need to be any more stressful than it already is. Follow my advice and maybe you too will be able to call Great Britain your other home country.
While being the spouse or partner of a British or EU citizen is the easiest route, you can also find yourself in a position to lodge a work or student visa as well and these tips are just as applicable for those, too. Good luck!