Why visas suck

With just a week until I leave Guilin and start my epic journey back home, we are currently still waiting on R’s visa application result back from the UK Border Agency, so that we can finally book his flight to come and visit me and the new baby (and hopefully, although I’m not holding my breath, be present for the birth).

Don’t get me wrong, I know visas are a necessary restriction to maintain immigration levels and restrict ‘undesirable’ people from entering a country, etc but visas for spouses just suck. I just want to be in the same country as my husband all the time, and not worry about whether we’ll be ‘allowed’ to be together, whether we’ll be ‘allowed’ to find a job to keep us afloat, or whether we can actually settle down somewhere without the threat of someone having to leave.

Having only ever applied for Chinese visas myself, this was my first experience of the UK visa system, and I found it somewhat more demanding. Instead of telling you what documents they require to issue the visa, the UK chooses to provide a 7 page list of documents you ‘may find useful’ to support your application, depending on the circumstances… Half the battle is of course collecting the documents from various different people and making sure they are in English. Fortunately this time we only needed to get our marriage certificate translated (and now that’s done we can use the same translation for years to come), although trying to determine the difference between notarised, legalised and certified translations, and which was required was no easy feat. The other documentation was all done in English, we just had to persuade the relevant Chinese people to sign and stamp. The other half the battle was a trip to the nearest big city with an application centre and the inevitable phone call asking for further documents we hadn’t provided! Being a short-term visa, I’m hoping the odds are stacked in our favour this time.

The UK spouse visa, which is the equivalent of the US ‘green card’ I guess, although the spouse visa lasts just 2 1/2 years before you have to reapply for another 2 1/2 years, before you can then apply for permanent residence aka ‘indefinite leave to remain’ (the most contradictory and confusing term for non-native English speakers if there ever was one!) is another story however.  Since 2012 there has been a financial requirement to fulfill and this makes the process a lot more complex and demanding. If the British spouse is living and working in the UK, it’s not too bad as the salary threshold is below average so relatively attainable, but if the couple are living outside the UK, the requirements for a certain salary threshold (certainly far above average for China) for a certain amount of time, plus a UK job offer on return, or other savings/income sources, are not easy to fulfill. I know a number of couples who are currently considering the move and this financial requirement makes the decisions a lot more difficult.

Me and my husband aren’t currently planning a move to the UK, as the benefits of staying in China whilst we are still young outweigh the benefits of moving back, but the knowledge that when the day comes that we would like to go back we will be faced with a minimum 6 month separation or 6 month wait is stressful. It’s harder for me since I’m the partner currently living away from home so suffering inevitable bouts of homesickness, but after our baby is born, I’m sure we will both have news sets of priorities and considerations. When making big life decisions, visas are a huge obstacle which make the process all the more difficult, especially when it feels like your own country doesn’t want you, because you happened to marry a foreigner.

I’ve read a number of blog posts on the topic of visas for spouses over the years, so I know I’m not alone, but what I’ve also found is that every person’s/couple’s situation is different, so it can be hard to find applicable advice. Next stop, mixed race baby nationality issues!


15 thoughts on “Why visas suck

  1. Sarah, visas are definitely stressful and really do suck! In a perfect world, we’d never have to worry about these things — but unfortunately, we do. I do hope everything goes smoothly for your husband’s visa. I’ll be thinking of you.

    On Wednesday, January 28, 2015, Diaries of a Yangxifu wrote:

    > Sarah @ Diaries of a Yangxifu posted: “With just a week until I leave > Guilin and start my epic journey back home, we are currently still waiting > on R’s visa application result back from the UK Border Agency, so that we > can finally book his flight to come and visit me and the new baby (and > hope”


  2. It’s very frustrating. I can’t import my husband to my country either. He can import me to Japan, no problem. As his wife, I have the right to live and work there and visa things can be taken care of within a day at the Japanese embassy. But the Netherlands has similar immigration rules as the UK, and I am unwilling to move back to my country alone and be seperated from my husband again. We’ve done LDR for enough years, no more. Weird thing is as an EU citizen taking him to the UK was dead-easy. I applied for a family permit at the UK embassy in New York online (sent documents by post), went to some UK Border Agency office in San Francisco to have Yasu’s picture and fingerprints taken. And in one weeks time, he had his passport with UK visa back. It was crazy quick and easy. Maybe you should try taking your hubby to my country, things may work the same… It’s strange though.


    • See that’s more like it: ‘the right to live and work there’, how wonderful and welcoming!
      I’ve red about this interesting EU conundrum, it is possible we’ll go down that route but it’s ridiculous we may have to.
      I’m happy for you though, that’s great you’ve found a solution(ish) that works for you xx

      Liked by 1 person

      • The UK visa situation is absolutely dire and I can’t believe they would set a finanical requirement that doesnt reflect the minimum wage at all. I was a teaching assistant and couldn’t make the requirement and, as a childcare worker who wasn’t in management, I wouldn’t be able to for a long time. I didn’t want a long distance relationship so we went about the Surinder Singh family permit way. We stayed in another European country for six months and could come back to England and stay without meeting the financial criteria. We are now waiting for the last stage and he will be issued a 5 year visa. If you want to know more just ask me. You are not alone, these new spouse laws have effected so many families. Stay strong, so glad I found your blog, makes me miss China so much!! xx


  3. The worst part is the worrying and not knowing. I’ve gone through it with my husband, myself, and my kids. The good news is, things always worked out and we got visas. It wasn’t always as easy or fast as I’d hoped, but in the end that isn’t so important! I’m sure it will work out for you guys.


  4. Dont even get me started on visas! We have to get tons of documents ready so that my mother-in-law can come to visit us in April. Depending on the country you live in it can really get much work. I think we needed about half as much documents as now when we got the visas for her in Finland opposed to Germany now!°


  5. I’m glad that you were approved! The US also has difficult visa application procedures that are not clearly spelled out within the application. I feel like countries make it harder for spouses and couples because they know we will do whatever it takes to get the application approved. I was surprised at how many times you will have to go through this procedure, even once he’s approved the first time!


  6. Hey Sarah, you may wish to consider have your baby born in Hong Kong, which is an area that is known to have high standard of maternity care and right of abode by birth. Moreover, Hong Kong is one place in China that dual nationality is allowed!! Being a Hong Kong resident by birth and have a British mother gives perfect combination of nationalies to your baby, I believes.


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