When I first started this blog, I didn’t think I would be where I am now. I had no expectations.
We were still only dating then, and we decided to get to know each other on a more serious level by extending my stay when I first visited him in 2014. We didn’t even know anything about UK Partner visas. We just knew we needed to give living together a shot. We both believed that you never truly know a person until you’ve lived with that person under the same roof, and luckily for us, we liked living with each other. We seem to complement each other’s quirks, strengths, and flaws. We enjoyed each other’s company, we had similar principles, and when it came down to it, we really loved each other.
Moving Full Speed to the Next Level
It feels like it was just yesterday that I was applying for a UK tourist visa to visit him and meet his family, then before I left to go back to Manila we were engaged, then we applied for a UK fiance visa, then I left my life in Manila and came back to the UK, then we got married, then we applied for a UK Spouse visa, and now I’m officially living here with him. My husband and I now live our daily regular lives. I’ve made a few good friends. I learned how to use the tube. I got drunk and made it home. (That’s a very important gauge of adjusting to a new home, obviously!) I applied for jobs. I started a job. I can confidently say that now, I am truly settling in. When I stop to think about it, it’s all pretty intense. It really astounds me that my husband and I have survived the last 2-3 years of major life events and big decisions.
A Very Different Test of True Love
When love is tested in a normal relationship, it is a test of devotion to one another. You need to prove to each other that you love one another forever. It is about you and him, and that is all that matters.
When it comes to a cross-continental love like we had, we had to prove to each other that we will love one another forever, and also needed to prove it to a complete stranger. Imagine falling in love, really putting in the work to make your relationship work, and then having someone off the street come up to you and say, “Nope, sorry. I don’t believe it. You can’t be together. Say goodbye to each other now!”. That’s how it felt sometimes, especially during the visa application.
Scams and Sad Stories
It may not feel nice to be questioned about the sincerity of your relationship, but I think it is fair. It may not seem like it, but this strict process protects both parties’ interests. Since I started writing about my UK visa experience, I’ve had people from all over the world message me asking for advice on how to process their own visas. I’ve come across some really heartwarming stories, and then there are some that are really heartbreaking too.
For example, I received a couple of emails from British guys asking if they should send their partners an excessive amount of money for “visa processing miscellaneous fees”. It breaks my heart to tell them that it sounds like they are being taken advantage of, but it has to be done. It is not just the British partner who gets the short end of the stick all the time. In the Philippines, emigrants on partner visas have to do a mandatory seminar on domestic violence before leaving the country. When I attended mine, I found out about stories of women who were so overwhelmed by cultural differences that their lives spiralled into despair and depression. Even worse, they marry people whom they didn’t care to really get to know, and they end up in violent relationships.
Call me old-fashioned, but marriage should only be done for love. Especially in this case. Marrying someone from a very different cultural background is not easy. Leaving your whole life to live in another person’s world is overwhelming. You have to both truly accept each other and understand what you are both getting into, 100%. When a person is blinded by affection for someone who is solely driven by desperation, they come together to make very unhappy homes. One feels cheated and unloved while the other feels very sad and lonely. No one wins.
The Next Steps
If you and your boyfriend/girlfriend/partner want to take your relationship to the next level, I suggest really understanding your expectations first. Do you know each other well? No? Maybe you need to visit each other first and really get to know each other’s families and lives. Yes? Then where would you want to live if you do get married? Would you be able to afford to start a family? Where will you live? All of these questions tie into the process of getting UK partner visas. There are many types and they depend on the kind of relationship you have (fiance, spouse, or live-in partner ) as well as your plans for the future (whether you intend to live in the UK or not after).
I made the guide below to help make it a bit clearer. It is not an official guide but I hope people can find it useful. It is basic and will not have everything you need to know. For that, you need to do your own research. I will help when and if I can, but please understand that I am just sharing my experience. I am not an expert and do not claim to be one.
If You Love Each Other, Make it Work
Every couple will have their own struggle, whether you live next door to one another or whether you Skype each other when the timezone and schedule allows it. You just never know where life will lead you both. If you’re lucky, you tough it out and you end up with each other. You make decisions together, and then you consciously put the effort in to make it work. That’s all to it really. If you’re looking to apply for a UK partner visa, I wish for you and your partner that it brings you closer than ever and that it takes you to a place of happiness, wherever that place is in the world. Good luck!
Edit Feb 20, 2017: I have just finished a post on my experience of converting a UK Fiance Visa into a UK Spouse Visa. Read about it here: