If you are at this stage, congratulations! You’ve managed to finally get through the heaping paperwork of UK partner visas! You can relax now. Right?!
Well, yes… to an extent. Real life is here and now the dirty work now begins – transitioning from testing out the waters to riding the wave of your new life in the UK. I can guarantee you that it will get overwhelming if you don’t have your priorities in order.
To help you out, here are my top 5 things to do after getting your UK Settlement Visa:
Get a Bank Account
The usual step to settling in to normalcy is to get your financial life in order. Having a bank in your new country doesn’t only give you a way to save money, it also gives you an identity. Open a bank account as soon as you can as this will be required when you get a job, get a mobile provider, etc.
Tip: I got mine through HSBC. You need to call the bank and set an appointment to open an account. Make sure that you know the list of requirements and that you come organised.
Get a NINo (National Insurance number)
A National Insurance Number is your unique national identification in the UK. Everyone who resides and works in the UK is required one. Having your NINo will ensure that all your tax and other contributions in the future are recorded against your name. It’s necessary that you keep your NINo confidential to avoid identity theft.
I went to Jobcentre Plus to apply for mine. You will be interviewed on your employment and residence status. The woman who interviewed me was very nice and accommodating. Read more on how to apply for a National Insurance Number (NINo) here: How to Apply for a National Insurance Number UK
Get Registered With Your Local GP
Finding and registering yourself with your local General Practice will serve you well in the future. In the UK, you only go to the hospital/ emergency room for urgent and special care. For anything less life-threatening or obvious, you need to consult your local GP. This is covered by the NHS fee that you paid for – registering, consultation, and treatment (to a certain level) will not cost you anything. This is one of the amazing things about the UK, that’s why I believe that paying the NHS fee as a non-citizen is incredibly fair. Get to know the NHS system as this is a pillar of British culture and history, and do support them!
Find your nearest GP by going on the NHS website. Getting registered with a GP might take as long as 6 weeks so it would be much better to register as soon as possible.
Get a Job
If you decide to be a housewife/husband, that’s fine – but make sure to really discuss this with your partner. Most households in the UK has double income due to the high cost of living. Some would consider only having one source of income due to the high cost of childcare. It’s all up to you.
I, for one, have always held having my own career to a high priority and do not have a baby yet. If you feel the same, do approach job hunting systematically and with optimism. I cannot give you an exact timeframe on how to achieve this, but giving myself a goal of getting one in 3-6 months has helped me build my momentum and prevented me from getting complacent. Some people take years to get a job, it is all relative to your industry.
Set your expectations realistically – aim high and low. Build your CV – send it out to as many as you can. Practice your interview – get input from your husband/wife and friends. This may all sound like a Job Hunting 101 for beginners, but it kind of is, since you are starting a new career path in entirely new territory. With enough diligence and patience, your hard work will pay off and you will land a job. I’ve shared this and more in 30 Tips on Finding Your First Job in a New Country. Have a read!
Pay the bills
Now that the dust has settled a bit, it’s time to share the duties. Get your name on some house bills, if you haven’t yet. Get a mobile provider. Get private pension. These wouldn’t only help you settle into your new normal, it will also establish your rootedness to your new life as a UK resident. You will need these documents next time you apply to renew your FLR-M, or even if you plan to apply for a Schengen visa to visit other countries in Europe.
These 5 things, albeit basic, are important to accomplish as soon as you get your spouse visa. Being newly married is a wonderful thing but it is easy to get caught up in post-wedding rush that we forget the things that need to be prioritised. Make sure you and your partner cross these off and you’ll feel like a true UK local in no time. I hope this helps you and I wish you all the best in forging your new path!