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Topic: hello all! please help :(  (Read 1593 times)

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hello all! please help :(
« on: June 01, 2014, 07:13:07 AM »
First off- I stumbled upon this forum while desperately looking for answers to the bajillion questions I have, and I must say-- what a lovely community! Hopefully I can get your advice..

So I met my English boyfriend through a mutual friend back in Sept 2012 visiting England for the first time. We continued to visit each other back and forth throughout the year about 2 times each, only for 2 weeks at a time. Until Sept 2013 when I decided to take the plunge, quit my job, and visit him in England for 6 months (on a regular visiting visa). Anyhow, my 6 months ran up and I am now jobless, living with my parents, and trying to figure out how I can get back to England. Not an ideal situation! He's visiting me at the end of the month, so we've been 3 months apart after spending 6 months everyday together- and it's killing me. As I'm sure a lot of you have experienced!

I'm 28 and I'd like to just be able to spend as much time with him as I can now to figure out if marriage is the appropriate next step. So I've been looking into possibly applying for a volunteer visa- it seems like that's the only way I can get back into the country for the cheapest an "easiest" route. Schools are too expensive (plus the idea of grad school isn't too appealing right now) I'd LOVE to be able to work there but I don't have any "special" skills and reading up on getting a sponsor and applying for a work visa seems almost impossible. However, in looking at most volunteer organizations they seem to stick you in London which is not close to where he lives. So that wouldn't be ideal either. I guess what I'm wondering is if this is a realistic option or is there something else I could do besides just entering on a visiting visa.  Or maybe someone would know a good organization to apply to? Most have a fee--and being jobless I'm slowly dwindling down on my money. Oh love!!!! :(


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Re: hello all! please help :(
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2014, 07:55:58 AM »
Hi there :). Welcome to the forum :).

I'm 28 and I'd like to just be able to spend as much time with him as I can now to figure out if marriage is the appropriate next step. So I've been looking into possibly applying for a volunteer visa- it seems like that's the only way I can get back into the country for the cheapest an "easiest" route. Schools are too expensive (plus the idea of grad school isn't too appealing right now) I'd LOVE to be able to work there but I don't have any "special" skills and reading up on getting a sponsor and applying for a work visa seems almost impossible. However, in looking at most volunteer organizations they seem to stick you in London which is not close to where he lives. So that wouldn't be ideal either. I guess what I'm wondering is if this is a realistic option or is there something else I could do besides just entering on a visiting visa.  Or maybe someone would know a good organization to apply to? Most have a fee--and being jobless I'm slowly dwindling down on my money. Oh love!!!! :(

To be honest, unless you and your boyfriend are ready to get married and you apply for a fiance visa or a spousal visa, there aren't really all that many options.

The easiest other visa would probably be a student visa for grad school, but it's expensive for the tuition fees and as you said, you may not want to go back to school.

Getting sponsored for a work visa is probably not an option if you don't work in a shortage, highly-skilled or in-demand profession, as it can be extremely difficult to almost impossible to get a work visa otherwise (the company would have to prove that there is no one in the entire EU (500 million people) capable of doing the job before they would be allowed to hire you).

Unpaid volunteering could be a possibility on a Tier 5 Charity Worker visa, although I don't know of anyone here on the forum who has applied for one, so I don't know the logistics of being able to get one or how you would find an organisation to apply to. Also, you would only be able to stay in the UK for 12 months so it wouldn't be a long-term solution.

If none of these options appeals or is feasible, you might find that the best option right now is to find a new job in the US, maybe find your own place to live, and keep living your life there, while continuing to visit each other for short periods until you are ready to marry.

The more often and longer you visit the UK for, the more likely UK immigration will question whether or not you are a genuine visitor to the UK... so you need to be able to show strong ties to the US to prove that you must return to your life there after your visit and that you are not trying to use a visitor visa to 'live' in the UK with your boyfriend. Having a job and a home in the US that you must go back to is the best way to show ties and prove that you're just visiting.


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Re: hello all! please help :(
« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2014, 04:33:19 AM »
Thank you for the response! I kind of figured those were my only options. Like you said, some organizations will only allow you to stay in the country for 12 months, that's the ideal situation for me right now. I feel like that would definitely be enough time for us to decide whether marriage is the next step.

I'm also looking for jobs here which is tough enough. I guess the hunt for an organization continues-- or maybe I should consider grad school  ???


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Re: hello all! please help :(
« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2014, 08:31:40 AM »
Like you said, some organizations will only allow you to stay in the country for 12 months, that's the ideal situation for me right now.

It's not 'some' organisations, it's all of them. How long you can stay in the UK has nothing to do with the organisation, it's determined by the type of visa you have and what restrictions the UK government have put on it.

If you get a Tier 5 Charity Worker visa, you can only stay in the UK for 12 months, plus 28 days at the end of the visa. It doesn't matter what organisation you go with, you cannot stay more than 12 months and 28 days.

If you get a Tier 4 Student visa for grad school, if the course is less than 6 months, you can stay for the length of the course plus 7 days, if it's between 6 and 12 months, you can stay for the length of the course plus 2 months. If it's more than 12 months, you can stay for the length of the course plus 4 months.

With work visas, you can stay only while you are employed in that particular job - if you leave the job you either have to leave the UK or find another sponsored job and get another visa. Similarly with a spousal visa, it is dependent on your relationship status, so if the relationship breaks down permanently, your visa basically becomes invalid and you either have to leave or find another visa type.

I'm also looking for jobs here which is tough enough. I guess the hunt for an organization continues-- or maybe I should consider grad school  ???

I guess the first place to start with looking for organisations is the list of approved sponsors for Tier 5 visas: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/315685/Tiers_2___5_Register_of_Sponsors_2014-05-30.pdf

Also, I guess you could start narrowing down what you want from the organisation - type of volunteering, location etc. and see what you can find that way.

For grad school, it will be expensive, and in order to qualify for the visa, you need to have available to you the first year of tuition (between £12,000 and £15,000 approx.) plus £7,200 in living costs for outside Inner London (Or £9,000 if you will be studying in Inner London)... so before you even apply for the visa, you need about £20,000-25,000 that you can show you have available to you - either in personal savings or by way of a US loan.

You would also need to think about what subject and course you would like to do and get onto applying to universities. You may find that it's getting a bit late to apply for 2014/2015 courses as most people apply about a year in advance... so it may be the case that you wouldn't feasibly be able to start grad school until September 2015.


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Re: hello all! please help :(
« Reply #4 on: June 02, 2014, 06:08:12 PM »
As someone who is in the process of starting university in England, I'd advise to only consider grad school if it's REALLY what you want to do. The whole application/loan/visa process is a lot to go through if you're only interested in school as a way to get to the UK. I started the process last August and I'm still not even at the point where I can apply for my visa yet.

But if you're genuinely interested in grad school as an option, start your search now so you can be ready to apply by the end of the year. ksand is right about the expense. I know it looks like a lot up front but a lot depends on where you go and how you crunch the numbers. It may end up being cheaper than grad school in the US (but it also may not - like I said, it's all about the details). Good luck with whatever you decide to do. I know the distance is hard. I think everyone here would love a magic "just let me move there, darn it" visa. ;)


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Re: hello all! please help :(
« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2014, 03:51:39 AM »
ksand24 - thanks for clarifying the visa situation for me :)!! I was a bit confused because when searching through organizations, some say they have projects for a couple months, others longer, so I just assumed once I was set up with the organization I'd apply for the visa and so on. But good to know. Thanks for that link too--SO helpful!

Obviously grad school would be expensive and I wouldn't do it unless I was 100% sure it's what I wanted. Which is why it wasn't my first choice. I'm looking in Manchester, where he lives, so luckily I'd have a place to stay and wouldn't have to worry too much about that expense. Going back to school for my Masters has always been on my mind, I just never had the motivation. Thanks cloudsup for the advice--I knew it'd be a difficult process to apply but I didn't realize it'd take over a year! Good luck with yours!!
« Last Edit: June 05, 2014, 03:58:25 AM by sh4nny »


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Re: hello all! please help :(
« Reply #6 on: June 05, 2014, 03:56:36 AM »
I guess I have another question too regarding fiancé and spousal visas--

Once you have a fiancé visa and you've gotten married, what happens next? Do you have to then apply for a spouse visa?


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Re: hello all! please help :(
« Reply #7 on: June 05, 2014, 07:30:20 AM »
ksand24 - thanks for clarifying the visa situation for me :)!! I was a bit confused because when searching through organizations, some say they have projects for a couple months, others longer, so I just assumed once I was set up with the organization I'd apply for the visa and so on. But good to know. Thanks for that link too--SO helpful!

Sorry, I think I've confused you even further.

You DO get set up with the organisation first and then apply for the visa, because in order to apply for the visa, the organisation has to issue you with a Tier 5 Certificate of Sponsorship.

What I was saying was that the MAXIMUM length of time any Tier 5 Charity Worker visa can be valid for is 12 months... so you would not be able to use it to stay longer than this.

However, that doesn't mean that every organisation will allow you to stay for 12 months... if an organisation is only offering a 2-month job, then your visa may only be valid for 2 months.

Quote
Thanks cloudsup for the advice--I knew it'd be a difficult process to apply but I didn't realize it'd take over a year! Good luck with yours!!

It's not that the process itself takes over a year, it that people generally apply a year in advance - and so you may not get a place on a course if you leave it too late.

Once you have a fiancé visa and you've gotten married, what happens next? Do you have to then apply for a spouse visa?

- The fiance visa is only valid for 6 months and does not allow any kind of work at all - not even unpaid volunteering. It currently costs £885.

- Once you are married, you will need to switch to an FLR(M) visa to extend the time you can stay in the UK. The FLR(M) visa is valid for 30 months (2.5 years) and does allow work. It costs £601 if you apply by post (currently a couple of months processing time), or £1,001 if you apply in person for a same-day decision.

- After those 2.5 years on FLR(M), you apply for another FLR(M) valid for 2.5 years (again £601 or £1,001, but it will probably keep increasing each year).

- After 5 years on FLR(M) you can apply for ILR (permanent residence), which currently costs £1,093 by post (currently 5 months processing) or £1,493 in person.

- Then, when you have ILR, you can apply for UK citizenship.

Alternatively, if you wish to marry in the US, you can apply directly for a spousal visa (valid 33 months, allows work, cost £885) and skip the fiance visa altogether - so it would save you the cost of one of the FLR(M) visas.

See here for a helpful flowchart showing the fiance/spousal visa process:
http://smilinginaforeignland.com/living-in-the-uk/uk-visas/

Essentially:

Marry in the UK
- Fiance visa (6 months, £885, no work)
- FLR(M) visa (30 months, £601 or £1,001)
- FLR(M) visa (30 months, £601 or £1,001)
- ILR (indefinite, £1,093 or £1,493)

Total visa cost at current prices: £3,180 - £4,380

OR

Marry in the US
- Spousal visa (33 months, £885, work allowed)
- FLR(M) visa (30 months, £601 or £1,001)
- ILR (indefinite, £1,093 or £1,493)

Total visa cost at current prices: £2,579 - £3,379


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Re: hello all! please help :(
« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2014, 05:46:33 PM »
It's not that the process itself takes over a year, it that people generally apply a year in advance - and so you may not get a place on a course if you leave it too late.

yeah, sorry, i should have clarified. a lot of the year has been spent waiting. waiting for a decision, waiting for the FAFSA to be processed, waiting for information from my uni, etc. it's just good to apply as early as possible because it gives you more time to sort things out. there are people who apply as late as january though so whether or not you apply as early as a year in advance is totally up to you. it's stressful but not as must as i make it seem!


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