Monday, 1 October 2012

Key websites

The first step before starting the visa application is to do as much research as you can. You need to read, read, read all the information that is out there, so that you can ensure you submit a water tight application and provide the immigration officer with anything and everything to prove that your relationship is genuine and financially you can support your partner in the UK.

As as the sponsor I will have to provide 6 months' worth of payslips, my employment contract, bank and saving account statements, and will have to show that I have adequate accommodation for us to live in - even going as far as submitting floor plans of the property, mortgage deeds or lease terms. My husband will have to undertake an English literacy test in Cairo or Alexandria (it's only a basic level A1 CEFR) and provide biometric (fingerprint and facial photograph) information. He also has to show evidence of his finances, qualifications and work experience.

All sounds relatively straight forward? But if you miss out just one piece of the jigsaw puzzle, however irrelevant you may think it is, then your visa application can be refused.

Top websites to check out include:-

British Embassy

Visa Info Services - Worldbridge

UK Border Agency

Egyptian Consulate in the UK

Egyptian Embassy in London

UK visa and immigration

Biometric Information and booking an appointment at the visa centre

My husband will have to enrol his 'biometric information' - finger prints and facial photograph - as part of his visa application to the UK. To do this he will have to travel over 500 miles from Luxor to Cairo for an appointment at one of the Visa Application Centres.

Thankfully it looks like there is no extra fee, and that this is included in the visa application price, and is apparently quick and simple...

The appointment though can take place no more than 30 days after the completed application has been submitted online.

Visa Application Centres

What will happen when you attend your appointment?

When you attend your appointment, you will:

  • need to arrive no earlier than 15 minutes before your appointment (if you are late you will need to reschedule);
  • submit your printed copy of your visa application form and your supporting documents;
  • submit proof of your online payment of the visa application fee; and
  • enrol your biometric information. The Biometric information page describes the requirements for enrolling this information.

What should you bring with you?

When you attend your appointment, you should bring:
  • a signed printout of your completed visa application form;
  • your passport. You are not legally required to have 6 months' validity on your passport at the time you apply for your visa. But your passport must be valid at the time you apply and at the time you arrive in the UK;
  • 1 recent passport-sized (45mm x 35mm) colour photograph of your face, which meets the requirements in our - you can download this guidance from the right side of this page;
  • proof of your online payment of the visa application fee;
  • printed confirmation of your online appointment;
  • any supporting documents that are relevant to your application and a phototcopy of each document (including English translations); and
  • any previous passports which show evidence of foreign travel.
Your passport must contain at least 1 page that is blank on both sides, so that your visa vignette (sticker) can be inserted.

Paying your application fee

If you have not already paid online, you can pay your visa application fee in cash when you visit the visa application centre. Visa application fees are paid in Egyptian pounds only. There is no handling fee for paying in cash.

When will we return your passport?

We will retain your passport until we have made a decision on your visa application. You should remember this when you make your travel arrangements, particularly if you plan to visit other countries before going to the UK.
If you need to collect your passport before a visa decision has been made, your visa application will be withdrawn. Please note that the visa fee is non-refundable, and if you would like to reapply for a visa you will need to lodge another application, submit your biometric data, and pay the visa fee once again.

From Luxor to Luton!

I recently returned to the UK and having spent the last few weeks sorting out the flat that I rent out to tenants on the south coast am now beginning the important task of finding a job, so that I can be in a position to start the visa application for my husband to join me in the UK.

For the time being though I am basing myself in Luton, which is about 30 miles from London, living with my aunt who has a 4-bed house on the outskirts of the town, while I kick-start my job search in and around the capital and the midlands. 

For those of you that don't know anything about Luton let me introduce you! Luton is a multi-cultural town with a population of around 200,000 and is best known for its hat making industry, its international aiport,  the Hatters - Luton Town FC, the local football team - which in the 1980s was a successful First Division team but is now in the conference league, the motor industry and not forgetting one of its most notable supporters, the legendary comedian Eric Morecambe. 

The legendary Eric Morecambe with Glenda Jackson in an Egyptian themed comedy sketch!

So in the space of a few weeks I have swapped the Nile view, blue skies and 40 degree heat of Luxor for the autumnal Luton, in the heart of the county of Bedfordshire. Poles apart it would appear, but then not so as Luton has a diverse ethnic mix . Today as I did the washing up a woman in a full black burka and niqab face veil walked past the window, it made me feel just like being home in Luxor!!

Friday, 28 September 2012

Asking for Advice

I belong to a facebook group for expat women that live in Luxor. I decided to post up a request of advice from anyone who had gone through the visa process.

Some of the comments I received were really very helpful, especially one from a lady who had gone through the visa experience herself, successfully, a couple of years ago.

There are also online forums you can join, or you can just type in visa into the google toolbar and see what pops up. Everyone has a different story to tell, some good and some not so good.  Some positive and some negative.

There is the tale of the much older woman who married her younger Egyptian toy boy, brought him to the UK and he ran off with a younger woman...and the husband who 'changed' as soon as he'd got his British passport and then demanded a divorce. No one wants to think that will happen to them, but I suppose life is all about taking chances, albeit I hope that I won't be one of those with a negative story to tell in the future.

I do believe though that asking advice and going into this kind of thing with your eyes wide open is very important.

Visa Adventure!

I've decided to blog about the experience of applying for a UK visa for my Egyptian husband. I'm doing so partly as a diary of what we have to go through, but also in the hope that it might help other couples who have to go through the process in the future.

Our plan is to apply for a settlement visa which means that my husband is eligible to live and work in the UK for up to 2.5 year. Unfortunately post July 2012 the requirements to get a visa to the UK became more stringent and I suspect this could be quite a long winded journey.

I recently returned from Luxor where I had been living for the last nine months, building a villa by the Nile and also getting married to my Egyptian partner in a civil marriage in Cairo in May. Due  to the continuing  fragile economic climate in Egypt, my husband and I soon realised that it was unsustainable for me to stay in the country and that my career prospects remain back in the UK.

I have travelled overseas many times and had many visas stamped into my passport with no problems at all. Most of the time I just had to fill in a short form online with very few personal details required and hey presto my visa application was successful and I was able to visit that country without any issues.

However, getting a spousal visa or event for that matter a tourist one into the UK is a bit more tricky, especially when you come from a country like Egypt. The forms you need to fill in are lengthy, the information and evidence you need to provide to prove the relationship is genuine and that financially you are solvent is mind boggling. From what I have had read and stories I have been told, visas can be refused on the flimsiest of reasons....and if you are unsuccessful the £1,000 application fee is non-refundable.  So this could end up being a very expensive experience - good job I love my husband and know he is worth it!!

As I have been living in Luxor and not working, I can only start the visa application once I have at least six months worth of payslips as the financial requirements have also changed which means anyone sponsoring their spouse to join them in the UK (i.e. Me) has to be earning at least £18,600 a year - hopefully not a problem, but now the pressure is on to get a job ASAP.

Finger and toes crossed I get one soon and then the visa adventure will begin in earnest and my husband will soon be able to join for a new and exciting phase in our life together in the UK.