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    So you’ve met the love of your life…..

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    gaffer
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    So you’ve met the love of your life…..

    Post by gaffer on 13/10/18, 10:33 am

    So you’ve met the love of your life…..

    …….. and now want to begin a life together in the UK? Here is what you need to know;

    Rules, regulations, processes, fees and charges change on a regular basis. Like all things Chinese, regulations can be interpreted differently in different Provinces and cities. Please check!

    Applying for a settlement visa, like getting married, should not be taken lightly. The process is not only expensive but stressful, long winded, complicated and requires extreme patience …. and is likely to test your relationship. The Government website is designed (I use the word loosely) to confuse. Language and terms are obtuse, ambiguous and sometimes seem indecipherable. Links take you in endless circles or out into cyber wilderness.  Immigration officials are not your friends they are box tickers. If they find the slightest excuse not to tick your boxes the application will be refused. They are not allowed to use discretion or common sense and have no sympathy or empathy toward you. You are not people, just case numbers. This means you must put the work in and get it right first time. They will not ask for clarification of any detail or further documents. A refused visa means a lost fee, although they will refund the NHS contribution.

    Probably the most common reasons for refusal are inability to prove you have an enduring relationship and inability to prove you have the financial means to support a spouse in the UK.

    Forward planning is essential to ensure you have the evidence in place. You need to prove you have a real relationship and will need evidence to back this up. Don’t expect your spouse to be guaranteed a visa if you married on your first meeting in China. They will assume this is a “marriage of convenience”. Keep flight seat tickets, hotel bills, train tickets, temporary residence permits (if you stayed with him/her), in fact anything to prove you have been to China, preferably on more than one occasion. Very important are photos of the two of you together with suitable backgrounds. Silly selfies in bar are not ideal. Photos with prospective inlaws, relatives, friends are all good. Proof of communication such as chat records or emails are essential although with the advent of Skype, WeChat, QQ video chat there is less chance of any printable records. I would suggest planning ahead and producing some suitable and appropriate written chat over a period of time.

    A couple will need to prove an income of £18,600 per annum for at least the previous six months. More if children are involved. Wage slips, bank statements required.

    Failing that you can use savings, £62,500 for a couple with no children which must be effectively cash rather than term investments, stocks and shares etc. Proof must be shown that this has been available for the previous six months (to prevent people “borrowing funds”).

    Unfortunately the Home Office is still struggling to drag itself into the 20th century (never mind the 21st) and isn’t aware of derisory interest rates on easy access accounts or that most banks now only provide online statements. They still insist on original bank statements. A combination of income and savings can be used if income alone is insufficient. Pensions count as income.

    Proof of suitable accommodation is also needed. Council tax bills, rent records, mortgage payments etc. It is possible to have parents sponsor an application but more complicated.

    Your intended will need to pass an A1 English test or prove they do not need one. A degree taken in English language usually suffices (not necessarily an English language degree). The test costs £150 from a Government approved test centre. Very simple, takes only 5 minutes and is outrageously expensive at £30 per minute….. and it gets worse. Another two tests will be required, one after 30 months and another after 5 years with increasing difficulty. Each test is conveniently valid for only two years. So, as in the case of my wife who is fluent in English and could have passed the final test at the beginning, but it would have expired before even the second is due. So everyone must stump up £450 in total (subject to further increases).

    Spouse will also need a TB test taken at an approved medical centre, cost around £50.

    Now, assuming you haven’t already, you need to get married (or prove your are in a Civil Partnership). In China that is fairly simple and cheap! You will need proof that you are free to marry and this is now obtained from the British Embassy or Consulate in China. You will need to swear an Affidavit which costs around £50. Have with you proof such as divorce papers or previous spouse death certificate. In our case my prospective spouse also needed her divorce book and Hukou.

    You can now head to the Civil Affairs Bureau (International Marriages) in the city your spouse’s Hukou is registered and get married. A woman must be at least 20 years old and a man 22. No appointment necessary, just turn up with Affidavit (which may need to be translated into Chinese but can usually be done there), passport, and spouses ID, Hukou, divorce book, birth certificates I’m told are required in some cities, three official style photos of you both together, (usually can be taken there) and you’re good to go. On arrival you will be issued with a number and wait until the screen invites you to a window. I think we attended three windows in all, completing forms finger prints and paying the fee (I think around 150 yuan).

    In Guangzhou we were invited to have a small “ceremony” although this is not usual for Chinese couples and may not happen in some cities. In fact it was more of a photo opportunity from which their photographer printed a selection of our choice while we were there. I think we also provided a USB stick and all the photos they took were downloaded. Can’t remember the cost of photos but optional.

    Now comes the tricky part, applying for the visa which is now done partly in China and the UK. When we got married I took all the documents with me and handed them over but now they go straight to Sheffield in the UK.

    From the UK the application is made through https://www.gov.uk/apply-uk-visa and can be done online. Make sure you have sufficient funds to pay the fee along with NHS contribution (£1523 + 2.5 x £400 = £2523). NHS contribution increased to £400 per year in 2018 so will cost £2000 over the five years unless increased further. During the process you can make an appointment with VFS in China for your spouse to have his/her Biometrics recorded. These will be used to produce a BRP (Biometric Residence Permit card) which is collected from the Post Office following his/her arrival. This is effectively a UK photo ID card and must be used in conjunction with a passport for any International travel. It also states if work is permitted. The VFS office is also where his/her passport (hopefully with visa) will be collected. We paid a small fee to receive a text when this was available. Unfortunately it does not give you the result. Ours arrived on a Friday meaning a very long weekend wait until Monday. Even then they say nothing. You have to rummage through an envelope locate your passport then feverishly whip through the pages searching for the visa. On receiving their visa your spouse has 30 days to enter the UK.

    All the documents including English language certificate, TB test, translated and certified copies of  marriage books, Hukou, divorce book and all the “evidence” etc must be sent to Sheffield where they are scanned and returned. Three months would not be unusual for a decision.

    Now the painful part, the cost!  I estimate the total cost over the 5 years to be around £9,000 excluding any legal advice or assistance you may wish to seek (subject of course to any further increases over the period).

    This comprises three visas, initial entry, FLR (Further leave to Remain), ILR (Indefinite Leave to Remain), three language tests, TB test, translations, Affidavit and 5 x £400 NHS contribution.

    The most expensive visa is the ILR at £2389 which is said to cost the Government £243. Nice little earner.

    Warning!

    There are many “agencies” in China and the UK more than willing to relieve you of your hard earned cash to obtain the visa. Definitely avoid the Chinese ones and use caution when considering a UK one. I would suggest using qualified immigration lawyers if necessary but shop around. I can recommend one in the north of England.

    There are several Chinese language chat groups on WeChat and QQ for Chinese spouses/fiancé(e) who might like to chat with others in the same situation. Mostly female members many already settled in the UK and some in the process of obtaining visas. My wife can add any who might be interested. PM me.
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    Equalizer
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    Re: So you’ve met the love of your life…..

    Post by Equalizer on 14/10/18, 08:23 pm

    Excellent information Gaffer.
    I have however moved your topic to the Visa to other Countries forum as it contains valuable information on the Visa application process, rather than the Marriage process.


    Where did you receive information that the NHS surcharge had increased.

    I've just completed a Settlement Visa application on behalf of a friend and the fee was £600.
    Her initial entry Visa is also valid for 33 months
    According to Gov.UK the fee is still £200 per annum, which is £1000 over 5 years.
    https://www.gov.uk/healthcare-immigration-application/how-much-pay

    There is also a useful calculation tool on that site, which calculates how much you'll have to pay before you apply, depending on the Visa type.


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    gaffer
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    Number of posts : 526
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    Where I live : UK/Guangzhou
    I have visited China : 9 times or more
    Registration date : 2009-03-16

    Re: So you’ve met the love of your life…..

    Post by gaffer on 15/10/18, 11:02 am

    The increase was mentioned in several forums and a report in Daily Maill, but here is a link to .Gov  https://www.gov.uk/government/news/increase-to-immigration-health-surcharge-gives-nhs-extra-funding

    They don't mention clearly that this is an annual charge x 5.

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      Current date/time is 13/12/18, 08:31 am