I’ve been putting off writing this blog until after the appointment to make sure it had a happy ending! But now that we’ve been successful, I’m going to share our experience to help and reassure others on the process. To be honest, if you’ve prepared everything and tick all the boxes, you shouldn’t  have a problem 🙂

Before I start, I’ll explain our situation to put it in perspective so that you can see if it can help you or not. I’m a British citizen, lived in the UK since birth, and my husband is from New Zealand. He’s lived in the UK since March 2016, he came over on the Youth Mobility Scheme Visa and switched to the FLR (M) visa yesterday (July 2017). We got married on the 24th June 2017, so not too soon before applying for the new visa.

For the FLR (M) you will need to prove:

  • You are 18 years or over.
  • Your partner is either a British Citizen, have Indefinite Leave to Remain or proof of Permanent Residency, OR have a refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK.
  • That you are married or in a civil partnership that is recognised in the UK
  • You’re planning to marry once in the UK (on a Fiance Visa)
  • You’ve lived together for a minimum of 2 years (if applying as an unmarried partner)
  • You have good knowledge of English
  • You can reach the financial requirements for yourself and any dependents (click [here] for the financial requirements)

For people on the YMS visa, it states you have to leave when your visa expires, and that you can’t switch to another point based visa. If you are married you can apply for the FLR (M) visa at any time, though I’d recommend doing it soon after you get married because the YMS visa years DO NOT count towards the 5 years needed to apply for settlement or citizenship. Also, the FLR (M) isn’t a point based system so it’s fine to switch to this. You can apply for this visa as an unmarried partner, BUT you DO have to complete the 2 years on the YMS visa to qualify. This is because you need 2 years proof of cohabitation with your partner which is akin to marriage to qualify. The Home Office allow 28 days after your visa expires for your new visa to come through, so I’d recommend going to your visa appointment on the day the YMS visa expires so you have the full 2 years and don’t leave it too late because it’s illegal to overstay.

For more information on the FLR (M) visa under the partner of spouse route, click [here].

 

Applying

I’m going to talk about the application form (version 04/2017), where we had to pay £933 for the application, £590 for the premium service and a £500 health surcharge fee that NZ and Aussie nationals now have to pay (as of 2016).

The application form is a little confusing to fill out at times because of some of the wording, I’ll go through the ones that stumped me, even though looking back it seems obvious! Other things I’ll go through are documents we provided, because things like bank statements and correspondence got us worried.

 

The Application Form (version 04/2017)

I won’t go through it all page by page, but I will highlight parts that confused us slightly.

 

Section 3 – Your Sponsor’s Details

Okay, yea, this seems simple enough. The only issue for me was 3.2 Name at birth… I was born with a different name (it’s complicated), so I was worried that this would confuse the Home Office. Luckily, I still had my change of name deeds and wrote a small letter just explaining why my names had changed so much JUST in case this caused them to become suspicious at any point. My view is, honesty is the best policy.

Oh, and some people are confused with 3.9 How long has your sponsor lived in the UK. I just put ‘since birth’.

 

Section 6 – Your relationship to your sponsor

Here they want to know things like, when we met, how did we meet, when did our relationship start and how we keep in contact.

So for this section, considering when we met in person was different to how we FIRST met (we met on twitter), we decided to provide details on BOTH. I gave dates on the different stages, like “we first met online on the 12th April 2014 but we first PHYSICALLY met on 16th February 2015”.

Also, for 6.8 where you have to mention ALL addresses you’ve both lived at, along with a start and end date. We have only lived at one address, and so just put that, the date Shane moved in here with me and left the end date blank.

6.9 IF RELEVANT, have you lived together permanently in the UK with your sponsor since your LAST grant of limited leave to remain as a partner. – If this is your FIRST application, just put N/A.

 

Section 7C – Accommodation

Don’t laugh, but this actually stumped us in this section. Especially 7.13 Does anyone other than your sponsor live in the property?…I think they could have worded that better, because our first thought was “Why yes, SHANE lives with me…” but eventually we worked it out haha!

Basically it’s for people who might be house sharing, or have other family living with them, and the Home Office is trying to establish if you have enough room for another person (this can be a reason to reject an application if you don’t have enough living space). Just to prove that our flat could accommodate us both, AND to show that I own the place, I included things like the Land Registry (which they photocopied), floor plans, and correspondence between myself and my solicitor to show I had purchased the property and also am currently renewing the lease.

 

Section 9 – Biometric Residence Permit

As Shane was on the YMS visa, he has already gone through the process of getting his biometrics done, so we could fill this section out just fine. If you already have yours, in 9.14 put the location of where you got your fingerprints taken, and in 9.15 you might need to do some research into this one, but make note of the diplomatic post(s) involved in your biometric application. For Shane it was the “British High Commission Wellington” – we didn’t expect it to be called that, so not sure if that might catch other people out too.

 

Section 10 – Personal History

At 10.14 it asks for what ties you have with any countries, for this section Shane just put “New Zealand” and stated he had family there.

 

Consent and Declarations

There are quite a few things here to be signed, but not all of them need signing! The ones we signed were all of Section 14 – Shane signed his one and I signed the last two giving the Home Office permission to do checks on my accounts should they need to. Then if you read section 15 it’s pretty easy to work out which ones are for you.

 

[PLEASE NOTE]

I am only going off what I did, and am no way a professional in immigration in any way, but I hope this gives some reassurance if you’re stuck on the form. I’ve got no idea what you need to put if you have kids, but there are some excellent forums you can visit if you need extra help!

 

Tips

  • Photocopy your application form, it is good to have reference to it because the Home Office will take the original copy and you will never see it again!
  • If you forgot to take photos for the application, there is a photo booth in the visa centre and also at the Whitgift shopping centre nearby.
  • You can leave the visa centre when your application is being considered, just be sure to keep your ticket number safe because you will have to show this at the entrance when you return.

 

Supporting Documents

Now this is something that really got my anxiety shooting sky high! I became extremely paranoid about the supporting documents, to the point where I completely over-prepared. But then again, even the lady at the Visa Centre told me “better safe than sorry”. A saying you hear bantered around a lot in these situations, and it’s so true.

I divided the supporting documents up into sections, as follows:

 

Section 1 – 5

  • Applicant’s passport (and any previous ones)
  • Sponsors passport
  • Change of Name deeds
  • Applicant’s and Sponsor’s Birth Certificates

 

Section 6

  • Flight tickets of sponsor travelling to NZ
  • Flight tickets of applicant travelling to the UK
  • Screenshots of conversations between us using Google Hangouts
  • Scans of our scrapbook which showed proof of us meeting each other’s family over the years (X5 which contained about 12 photos)
  • Printout examples of our webcomics
  • Marriage Certificate
  • Proof of Shared Financial Responsibilities
    • Council Tax bills (X2)
    • Car insurance with Applicant as joint driver on Sponsor’s insurance
    • Proof of shared savings account (stamped and signed by bank)

 

Section 7A

  • A signed letter from employer (on official letter headed paper) stating
    • Sponsor’s name
    • Address
    • National Insurance Number
    • Job title
    • Length of Employment and that I’m still employed there
    • Salary
    • Length currently salary has been held
    • Confirmation of yearly bonuses
    • Payslips and P60 are genuine
  • 6 most recent payslips (signed by employer)
  • My recent P60 (signed by employer)
  • 6 bank statements*
  • Letter explaining bank statements*

* This was a last minute stress for me, there is a 28 day rule in regards to bank statements. From what I can tell (I couldn’t find where it specifies this, but people are saying this in the forums), if you’re doing a postal application you have to have 6 of the most recent statements, and the last statement can’t be older than 28 days from PAYMENT of the application. But for premium service, it’s 28 days from the APPOINTMENT. Our appointment was on the 10th of July, and the last statement was dated the 8th June. What made this worse was that at 4:30am in the morning of the 10th I received an email from my bank saying “YAY! Your most recent statement is now ready!” – the bank didn’t open until 9am and that was when our appointment was!! So on the morning of our appointment I hand wrote a letter using my sketchbook paper explaining this to the case worker, and told them to please PLEASE contact me if they need me to run to the bank and get this statement as proof. Turned out they never called me and the application went through just fine.

So who bloody well knows haha!

 

Section 7C

  • Land Registry for current accommodation
  • Correspondence between  solicitors and sponsor about property purchase
  • Correspondence between  solicitors and sponsor about lease extension
  • Floor plans of property
  • Photos of property (these were not needed).

 

Section 13

  • 25 pieces of evidence of correspondence to our current shared address from 5 different sources
    • 9 in dual names
    • 16 in single names

That’s it folks! We were approved on all of this, and I’m pretty certain it was way too much because the lovely lady who spoke to us saw it all and said “if you want an answer today, I’d advise on providing less evidence!”.

If you want to hear  about our experience in Croydon and a breakdown of time taken there, please click [here]!

 

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