Most of you will know that I’m currently in the UK on a Tier 4 (General) Student Visa as I have spent the past year studying for my Master’s degree. (Oh, by the way, I graduated – forgot to mention that little tidbit!) The weeks leading up to the wedding though, we spent completing a new application for an extension of stay as a spouse [also known as Form FLR(M)] and collecting the necessary supplemental materials. We did this, so as soon as we returned to the UK after the wedding, we could immediately send the completed application to the UKBA. On our first Monday back in the UK, the Brit sent the application off to the UKBA thus starting the waiting game….
This past Monday marked three weeks that my application for an extension of stay in the UK as a spouse will have been postmarked to the UKBA. (I am aware that three weeks is a very short amount of time when it relates to most bureaucratic procedures.) We did receive a letter dated January 10th stating our application had been received, that the application fee had been processed (and our bank account shows this), and that our application was passed onto a caseworker. However, since then, we have not received any further correspondence from the UKBA. I never expected the turn-around time to be as quick as it was for my student visa, which took all of a week and a half, so I’ve been staying sort of calm about the whole idea of being completely in the dark about the status of our application.
Then, the BBC shared this story last week. That story? Well, it’s pretty unsettling for a number of reasons.
First, using the term ‘marriage visa’ is vague as there are various routes and forms that a person can use to apply to remain in the UK as a spouse. These are dependent on the citizenship and/or situation of both the applicant and his/her sponsor. So, is this backlog for a specific type or does it encapsulate all types? I have no idea, and I’m wondering if anyone truly knows.
Second, from what I understand, there has only recently – as in the past few years – been a proper appeal method in a case of a rejected application. This means that many people with rejected applications, prior to the appeal method being put in place, have just attempted to have the problem solved through calls and letters to the UKBA. This appears to have caused more problems for the applicants and for the UKBA in that many of those cases were deemed ‘too difficult’ and shoved aside into boxes. This has, of course, left the system in shambles.
Third, from our point of view, our application is fairly straightforward – we meet the financial requirement, we have a subsisting and true relationship, I meet the English language requirement, and we are legally married. (I realize I could completely jinx myself by writing this.) However, after reading through some of the comments on the BBC article, it seems like other people who also assumed their applications were not troublesome are part of that group having not received an answer yet on their visa status. I do know it is impossible to fully understand each specific case and its intricacies through a short comment, but I would hope these people aren’t lying about their troubles with the UKBA. It has left me wondering what will come of our application.
That is where we are currently with our visa process. I’ll be sure to update it when we receive more information. I’m hopeful that once we are updated that our application process can perhaps help someone else in a similar position.
If anyone with more knowledge on this subject wants to interject, I’d be happy to hear your insight. Also, what I state in this post is merely my understanding of this situation.