We decided to book into the Premier Inn at Croydon town centre, which is a great location because it is literally an 8 minute walk to the Visa centre. It’s also convenient because it has a really nice little restaurant for dinner, and there’s a convenient store located right underneath the hotel (Co-operative foods) where you can buy breakfast if you don’t want to pay the £6.99 for an all-you-can-eat breakfast in the hotel (we can never eat £6.99 worth of food!).

There is also a 35% discount at the Whitgift NCP carpark for all guests at the Premier Inn. When you arrive, go to reception and let them know you have a car parked there and request for a discount card. The discount card looks exactly like the car parking ticket so don’t lose them! When you go to pay for parking at the machine, insert your parking ticket first and the discount card after. The machine will then ask you to insert your payment card into the same slot (it takes payment without the use of your PIN). The one we used didn’t accept change so I’m not sure if they are all like that.

FYI – If you’re using 4G you might lose access to the Immigration Board forums. I tried to look at them for last minute info and it said I was permanently banned due to the IP address. I think this is because SO many people have tried accessing the site using the cell tower around there, the site has flagged it as spam or a robot.

In the morning of our appointment, I was panicking about the bank statements after seeing that my newest one had become available 4:30am that morning, but my bank didn’t open until 9am, which was the time of our appointment!

With little choice left, I wrote a note to the caseworker explaining the situation and to call me should they need to see my newest statement.

At 8:40 we arrived at the Visa centre, and accidentally went into queue. The guard at the door came out saying if we have booked for a premium service, we don’t need to queue up, just show your booking confirmation and head through to security.

Security was through a door with misted glass either side, you head on in and are welcomed by a group of friendly guards who will ask you to take out laptops and electronics, place them into a box and place your bag and box onto a conveyor belt. It’s basically a mini airport security section, but a little friendlier!

Once through security, head up to the 3rd floor. When we went the lifts weren’t working so we took the stairs up. I’m not entirely sure what they do if they get anyone in a wheelchair or on crutches, I’m assuming they have a system in place for people with disabilities.

Upstairs we were welcomed by another queue, there’s a small desk up there manned by 2-3 members of staff who will take payments if you’ve not paid already, look at your application form and passports, then give you a ticket number and tell you to go sit in the waiting area next door, which has a coffee shop and photo booth there.

Just note that the wait in the queue was about 15 minutes, there were a couple of people in front of us who hadn’t paid yet and were filling out forms. If your appointment time wasn’t urgent, they made you wait at the side until they’d gotten everyone else sorted who needed to go to their appointments ASAP.

By the time we got through the line it was 9:03 am, we went through to the coffee shop and sat down clutching each other’s hands nervously as we waited. By 9:28 the coffee shop started to fill out, it had suddenly gotten a LOT busier, I read somewhere it was quieter in the afternoon, but we just wanted our appointment done asap so thought we’d just deal with the wait.

At 9:35 am our number 133 was called out and told to go to booth 47, we both looked wide-eyed at each other, and rushed to the booth. We were met by a very friendly lady on the other side of the booth who asked which one of us was applying and what was my relationship to the applicant. Once we had sat down, we were asked to provide our reference, application form and passports for her to input everything into the computer system. We were also asked to pull out all our documents and place it into a little clear folder with a pop-button (she congratulated me on my organisation skills but this is how they prefer the files). If you have photocopies, it’s best to have all your files in the same order as the photocopies, just for ease of reference.

At 9:55 am she had completed what she needed and asked us to take the folder down to the biometrics area for the next stage. Immediately Shane’s number was called, I grabbed his bag and he went on in past a glass door to go to the booth to have his photo and fingerprints taken, along with a signature. This will be used for his new BRP card which will be attached to his new visa if we are successful. This only took 5 minutes, and Shane was told to return to the waiting area while a decision is being made.

10:10 am marked when the dreaded wait began! The screens in the waiting rooms which usually tell you at what stage your application is at weren’t working right, and were showing old lists so we had nothing to go by. We decided to head on out to the bank and get the new statement just in case the caseworker asked for it, if you keep your ticket number safe you can come and go from the building as you please. We also popped into CEX where Shane treated himself to the fourth Assassins Creed game!

By 10:30 am we were twiddling our thumbs, so we headed back to the hotel room to chill and eat something and watch rubbish TV. My mum called up and scared the crap out of us because we thought it was the case worker asking for something! At 11:00 am we decided to head back and wait in the office in case our number was called out. When we arrived there were no seats left in the waiting room, we stood up until someone’s number was called and we could sit.

Our number was finally called at 11:35 am along with another number, our case was ready and results were in. We practically charged our way to booth 47, confronting a very confused looking caseworker, we gave him our number and he toddles off to collect our file. When he returned he told us it had been successful and to check all our documents 

were there. At this news I ended up bursting into tears because I was so happy! All that hard work paid off, and I get to keep my husband with me! The caseworker grabbed me a box of tissues and left us hugging each other while he served the next person.

In conclusion to all of this, though it is a bit more expensive using the Premium Service, I would recommend it just for ease of mind. Usually you have to wait up to 3 months before hearing back about whether your application was successful, but this way you can find out within the day. For us it only took 3 hours!