I’ve had a number of people ask me what the actual process is when it comes to immigrating to another country. In fact, that’s probably the #1 question next to ‘So when are you leaving?’ The problem with giving an answer to either question is that I really haven’t a clue. What? It’s true.
Let me try to answer that again. What I mean is, when it comes to the immigration process, every situation, every story, every timeline is different. So when it’s time for me to answer any question involving this process, most times my answers involve one of the following responses: Sometime after the first of the year, I don’t know, Probably, That’s very likely, At some point, Yes very excited!, There’s a lot of details involved, I cannot wait!, Yes stress comes into play… etc. You get the idea.
That having been said, let’s see if I cannot try and clear up some of the questions I’ve been receiving; if nothing else, it’ll give you a better idea of what we’re going through so we can be together. You know, in the name of that yucky love stuff.
I’m doing this bullet-point style because let’s face it, it’s just easier that way.
- When the decision was made and declared to the world that I’d be moving to England, Si and myself began the process of internet investigation. There are a million different websites, a million different opinions, and a million right AND wrong ways to go about embarking on this adventure you’ll hear me refer to as The Big Move.
- Fortunately for me, I checked in with a friend of mine whose husband immigrated here from another country and she recommended employing an immigration lawyer (or immigration solicitor if you’re British). You don’t HAVE to do this, but it is a good idea if you want to be 100% certain your P’s and Q’s are in order.
- From there Si did some looking, spoke with his family, and eventually we happened upon a highly recommended solicitor who agreed to help us.
- Once she agrees and we agree, that’s when the first chunk of change is exchanged. If you ask me how much, I’ll tell you to mind your own, but let’s just say if you are serious about this kind of move, then the money to follow is also as serious as you are. That said, our solicitor will help us prepare everything we need in order to get to the point of even looking at the visa application and that alone is a huge help.
- After agreeing on a solicitor, we venture into the beginning stages of the immigration process. (No, we haven’t even touched the Visa Application yet.) These beginning stages include her asking me to tell her our story. As in, how Si and I came to be, how we evolved into what we are together.
- Then she asked for emails from every month we’ve been together; emails displaying how we were able to communicate, how we learned about one another, how the relationship grew, the visits, the meetings with friends and family, all of it. ALL OF IT. Basically once you agree to employ a solicitor, you agree to give up the privacy of your relationship to a complete stranger you’ve never met face to face and are then asked to blindly trust them with the most precious details, the most precious part of you. I’m sure some of you think it’s no big deal, but how many people really know ALL about your relationship with your significant other? How many people know all the conversations you two have ever had, all the secrets and stories and history you two have shared with each other? How many people know the intimacies of your relationship, the way you communicate with each other? I’ll venture to say there aren’t many outside the two of you who know everything about your lives together. In the long run it’s a small sacrifice for the larger reward of being together, but still, it’s not an easy thing to do.
- Once the sharing has begun, you then arrange for a time to meet with your solicitor face to face (such as this Christmas) at which point the next steps in process commence and she will help me prepare the supporting documents (aka. give me a list of what I need to gather) to actually complete the visa application.
- As that is underway I’ll need to schedule an appointment to enroll my fingerprints and be photographed as a part of the Biometric process. (Yes, I’m being serious.) The British Consulate won’t even consider my application if this step in the process is not completed.
- After that, I am to complete the application and submit it (and another healthy chunk of change) to the UK Border Agency in New York via mail or a registered travel agent. I think I’ll go with snail mail. From there I’m a little cloudy on whether or not the application is sent onto England or what happens exactly.
- After the application has been mailed (along with my actual passport and a million other pieces of paper), the only thing left to do is pray. Hope and pray that the British Consulate will smile upon my application in favor of love and approve me for the fiancée visa so that Si and I can be together. *deep sigh* Finally. Hopefully.
- Thankfully I told my employer about this a while back, before it was made public to everyone else, so he’s aware of what’s going on. It doesn’t make the question of ‘When do you think you’ll be leaving by?’ any easier to answer, but I can understand his desire for answers.
- In the background of all of this I have begun to figure out what I can and cannot part with as I refuse to pay any international shipping company thousands upon thousands of dollars to haul my stuff. That’s just ludicrous (not to be confused with Ludacris). Most stuff is just stuff and it can be replaced, but there are some things that will have to come along and I’ll need to figure out the best way to save money without leaving those items behind.
- Next is trying to determine a timeline as to when I should start selling those items I’m okay to part with; you think it sounds easy but really it’s not.
- Then there’s my dog; I need to prepare Ramone for the move and that includes visits with the vet and papers to provide to the authorities when we step off the plane at Heathrow.
- I’m sure there’s more, but really isn’t this enough for now?
So again, you ask, “When are you leaving?” Look, it’s a great question and I wish I knew the answer but unfortunately all I can tell you at this point is this: I’ll be leaving sometime after the first of the year. Vague, I know. If it happens that I’m out there with my guy by March or even April 1st, color me joyfully thankful for such a “speedy” process. If it happens that I’m not out there until sometime after that, well then we’ll wait and we’ll continue to build upon our relationship as we have over this last year and three months; online, over the phone, via Skype, and the occasional flight over that great big, expansive pond.