Posted by: Andrea | August 25, 2010

Marriage update

The visa journey is getting pretty frustrating.

Malcolm and I discussed the option of getting married immediately in order to apply directly at the consulate.  It was a totally crazy idea, but I thought I’d looked through everything and that it would totally work for us.  It was still crazy!  But exciting!  But still TOTALLY CRAZY!!!  But we were excited about it.

Unfortunately, we ran into problems immediately.

Turns out that I am considered to be under ‘immigration control’ because I have a ‘limited leave to remain’ visa instead of an ‘unlimited leave to remain’ visa.  This means I have to apply for approval from the UK Border Agency in order to get married in the UK.  This application requires Malcolm and me to send our passports to Durham, where they are kept until the application is approved.  Which can be as quick as a month, or as long as three months.  Also, I have to have three months left on my visa, which means we have to apply within the next five days.

Then we found out that I have to stay in the UK until the original application for Malcolm’s visa is APPROVED, not just sent in.  This usually takes approximately 7 weeks.  I only have permission to stay in the UK until November 30 (let’s forget about my plans to leave earlier for right now).  We figured if we could get married right away, we’d have just enough time left on my visa that I could stay in the country until we got our approval.  I’d have to see if I could stay on in my flat and at my job, I’d have to change my flight, but it could be done.  But that damn certificate of approval is just making things difficult.

The more we discussed it, the more we realised that with this timeframe it’s just not possible for us to get his visa the quick and easy way.  If something goes wrong and it takes ages to get the COA, I’d be stuck in the country without my passport.  I don’t want to overstay my visa here, especially if we need to keep a good relationship with UK and US immigration.  I looked into whether we could apply and then get my passport back, if needed, but it takes 20 working days to process the request for return of information.  So yeah, that’s not an option.  Looks like we will not be getting married in the next few weeks or applying at the consulate.

Ok, we thought, let’s look at our options:

  • We could just forget the spouse visa and do what we were going to do, Fiancee Visa and get married next year.
  • We could get married right away and apply for a spousal visa after I return to the US.

The more we talked about it, the more it made sense to us to try to get married as soon as possible and apply for a spousal visa.  Though this option will take longer, it’s cheaper and Malcolm will be able to work as soon as he arrives in the US.  This is a HUGE factor for us.  Malcolm will probably go crazy if he has to wait for months to work, plus he already has several companies looking to hire him but unwilling to apply for his visa.  He wants to pull his weight, especially financially.  We’ll most likely be apart for quite awhile anyway, so might as well take an extra few months in the process if it means a cheaper and better option for us in the long run.

So looks like we’re going to have to get married pretty quickly!

Getting married immediately could happen in a variety of ways:

  • We could apply for the certificate of approval and just hope that it arrives before my visa expires.  This may also require me to change my travel plans and/or my living and work arrangements.
  • We could take a weekend trip to Las Vegas or Florida (no waiting times!) and get married, though this may be a bit expensive.
  • We could wait until I return home, Malcolm could come with me and we could get married in Portland.  Three days waiting time only.  He can enter and marry on a regular tourist visa, as long as he returns to the UK within 90 days.
  • I could return to Scotland after I finish my job in October as planned.  I could apply for a Marriage Visitor Visa to return to Scotland and get married.  We’d still have to give 14 days notice in Scotland before we could marry and it could take up to 30 days for the visa to be offered.  I’d also have to show continued ties to the US and my intention to return.  This costs £65.

I realise this is kind of boring, but actually writing it all down has helped to sort this all out in my head.  I have so much information buzzing around in there that I’ve hardly slept the last few days!

So yeah, we have a lot to talk about (I wrote all that stuff while I was at work today and not doing any work, because that’d just be boring!).


I went to a catholic grade school and had this one teacher who was fantastic.  She was so awesome, she taught me long division and our family kept in touch with her for all of our lives.  When my sister graduated from medical school in June she wrote from her retirement home to send congratulations.  She’s probably over 80 now and had to move away from Portland, but still keeps in touch.  She’s also a nun!

I sent her an email to let her know Malcolm and I are engaged and I got this back:

Thinking about you and Malcolm and the fact that it may take 6 mo. to a year before he can come to Portland permanently I had this idea.  If you got married in Scotland then as a married couple couldn’t you just come then?  Do I make any sense?  I feel so bad that you both have to wait so long.

Aw, thanks Sister D.  We’re working on it.



  1. I feel bad that I took for granted how easy it was for me to marry Mike. Ugh for you.

  2. I took it for granted too, I never realised how hard it was going to be or how long it would take. It seems like if you get married, you should be able to move over without all this hoop jumping! It feels like the assumption is that every marriage is a fraud until you can prove otherwise. So frustrating!

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