Sooooo, I’m going to tell you all about our experience going from our long distance relationship to my partner moving to the UK, and give you useful tips of what to prepare for if you want to fully commit and make the move to be together.

Now, before I start, I will say that we have been relatively lucky due to Shane’s age (he was 25 when he applied) and the fact that our countries are linked by the common wealth (I’m a Brit, Shane’s a Kiwi), which opened up other visa options and privileges at the time (back in 2015).

Long distance relationships are manageable, but can be painful when you want nothing more than to be together. So we decided to do something about it, and I got my research hat on to make a start!

 

Our Search for Visa’s

I came across a visa called “Youth Mobility Scheme” visa, which is available for people between the ages of 18-30 years, really cheap and allows you to spend two years in the UK to “experience life”, which is PERFECT for those who want to later apply for a FLR (M) visa. Keep in mind that you can only be on this visa once, so make the most of it!

On the YMS visa, you are allowed to:

  • Work
  • Study (but only on short courses, nothing like a degree!)
  • Be self-employed

You can’t:

  • Work as a professional sportsperson (e.g. a coach)
  • Extend your stay
  • Get public funds
  • Bring a family member (they must apply separately)

This visa is only available between certain countries, to see if your country is eligible click [here]. For the YMS visa guidance (which I highly recommend you read!) please click [here] and download the PDF.

 

Applying for the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa – 2015

Now, the YMS visa is pretty simple to apply for in comparison to the FLR (M) visa, I actually think we unnecessarily worried about the YMS application when I look back at it now!

To apply you need to prove the following:

  • You’re between the ages of 18 and 30 years
  • You don’t have children who are dependant on you
  • Show you have a valid passport with enough years (more than 2 years left)
  • If you’re from certain countries, you will need to show you have a sponsor
  • You have £1890* in savings

*I would highly recommend having more money than this saved in your account, job hunting is difficult here in the UK, and unless your partner can support you, you might find yourself struggling. For more about applying for the visa, click [here]. You will need to create an online account at Visa4UK, and during your online application, you will be able to book a date for your biometric appointment too. You will need to download the application form, fill it out and take it to your biometric appointment, along with your proof of payment and all supporting documents.

The biometric appointment is so they can take photos and fingerprints and put you onto the system if you are successful, and make an identification card for you (kinda looks like a driving licence, it’s called a BRP card). When booking the appointment, Shane had to pay the Visa fee of £235 there and then. There is also now a Health Surcharge needing to be paid on top of these fees (Shane didn’t have to pay for it when he applied, but it was introduced for Kiwi’s and Aussies back in early 2016).

Once your appointment is completed they will give you a stamped and approved document for your biometrics, you then post your application off with all your supporting documents, it’s also best to include a self-addressed prepaid envelope otherwise it can take even longer for them to send it back using the cheapest option available!

The appointment itself doesn’t take very long, it’s the wait after for approval which was the real nightmare! We applied in December, which we were concerned about because of all the bank holidays around that time. However, it must have been quiet because we had a response in exactly two weeks!

 

Our document checklist for this was:

  • Completed and printed application form
  • Completed and printed Appendix 7 form
  • Stamped bank statements (proof of funds)
  • Covering letter from bank all stamped
  • 2X passport sized photos (both signed on the back)
  • 2X passports (old and new one)
  • Stamped and approved biometric exam document

You can’t apply any sooner than 3 months in advance, so keep that in mind if you’re wanting to aim to live somewhere in a certain time. On the application it asks if there’s a date you’d like the visa to start, Shane and I requested the 14th March. I will warn you not to apply for your visa at the very last minute either, just in case you’re refused due to an issue. A lot of people also warn not to book the flight before you find out the results in case you need more time to resolve problems you might encounter. However, Shane and I were a little confident that it would go well, and booked the flight anyway before prices shot up!

A couple of reasons why you might be rejected, from what I’ve seen:

  • You’ve been refused entry before
  • Your Passport does not have enough years left before expiration
  • You’ve committed a criminal offence (I read someone was rejected for being charged of drink-driving within a certain period of the application)
  • Provided incorrect documents

When March eventually decided to show up, I flew out to NZ for a week to help Shane pack and be an emotional support as he said good bye to friends and family. We left on the 13th March (New Zealand time) to arrive exactly on the 14th March in the UK, the day Shane’s visa started.

When you arrive in the UK, get your BRP card from the post office as soon as you can, it’s illegal not to have it. Another thing I will point out, if you’re asked to register with the police because of your country of origin, do it. I’ve heard of people who don’t and this is a criminal offence, you don’t want this to be a reason as to why you can’t stay with a loved one.

 

Other VERY useful blogs:

 

Tips and Tricks (for people in relationships)
Before applying for the YMS visa, I decided to look at what options were available to us AFTER the 2 years were completed (something I recommend EVERYONE doing). The reason for this? You don’t want to be one of those couples who miss out being with each other because you didn’t think ahead… There are plenty of stories of couples not reading guidelines properly, applying and then one of them being deported because they didn’t meet the requirements.

Think ahead. Prepare.

The FLR (M) visa means that Shane could stay in the UK as either a married OR unmarried partner (both options require different specifications to be met). When applying for the YMS visa back in January 2016, we kept that in mind. At the time we still wanted to make sure this was definitely what we wanted (in regards our relationship) and so kept our options open (not very romantic, but practical!). When applying for the FLR (M) visa under the unmarried partner route, one of the main thing that differs from being married, is that you need to to prove you’ve lived together in a relationship ‘akin’ to marriage for a minimum of 2 years. Where as, if you marry, you don’t need to prove the two year cohabitation, but you do still need to prove you’ve lived together. If you haven’t lived together, you need to explain why.

As proof of cohabitation, you will need 6 correspondence from 3 different sources in both your names showing you live at the same address, OR 12 correspondence in one of your names (6 in the applicants and 6 in the sponsors) OR mix and match, for example 4 in both your names, 2 in the applicants and 2 in the sponsors.

A correspondence will be things like utility bills, joint membership letters (for us we have National Trust membership) or documents from the government run places (H&M revenue etc).

So before Shane moved over I wrote to all the utility companies and requested for Shane to be added onto the bills so we had both our names on them, then when he was over we got him a bank account and applied for a joint savings (which is also good to show shared financial responsibilities).

Lastly….ALWAYS keep an eye on visa changes, while Shane was over, New Zealander’s were no longer exempt from the Health Surcharge and the fees for the FLR (M) went up by 25%! Back in 2013 the financial requirement rose to £18,600, and in early 2017 there was talk of it rising AGAIN.

I hope this information helps others in our situation! For those of you who want to know more about the FLR (M) Visa and our experience, please click [here] for my followup blog!