So your long distance relationship has gone well. You’ve met in person, one of you proposed, and the other said yes. Now someone has to think about moving. If you both live in the same country, this isn’t too complicated.
Certainly, you have your job, family, friends, and social life to up and leave. It’s a lot to take in if you’re not used to it. But if you’re in an international relationship, well, I hope you brought your wellies; you got a lot of red tape to wade through now.
Yes, the sea of red in front of you is a country’s immigration department. Every immigration department is different; every country has different requirements for entry.
Given that (and the fact that I’m not a lawyer and far from qualified to give legal advice), it would be foolish for me to tell you how to navigate any immigration department.
However, there are a few tips that I believe would be helpful for any long distance couple looking to migrate; some general rules that certainly won’t hurt to know in advance.
1. Record everything.
Log every detail of your relationship. Save your facebook conversations, skype call history, email history.
Save every letter, card, and parcel you send each other and record it. Scan (or take photos) of it all, including the postal and return addresses on the outside.
When you meet, take plenty of photos together, and get photos of you together with family and friends.
Write a timeline of your relationship: when you first started talking, how you met online and/or in person, any subsequent meetings, when it first became official, when you got engaged. Even, in some cases, when you got married.
I would strongly recommend you thoroughly research the visa requirements of the country you want to migrate to before you get married. Being married can throw some serious complications into the mix, so be aware of that.
Why record all of that? One of the things you will have to do when applying for a relationship visa is prove that your relationship is real. The more information you have on it, the easier your lives will be. Not only do they want your relationship proven, they want to know that it has the approval of family and friends.
Immigration departments are not fans of people pretending to be in relationships to scam their way into a country. They can get touchy about unproven relationships.
2. Be honest with the immigration department.
I shouldn’t need to say this one, but seriously, some people think that lying will help fast track the process. It may, but is it really worth the risk?
The chances of being found out are high from what I understand, and the consequences are severe. A lie can result in the denial of your visa, potentially for years.
Most immigration officers are trained to ferret out lies and daily deal with people who try to get what they want by lying. I dare say they get a lot of experience detecting inconsistencies in stories.
3. Consider an immigration lawyer.
Unless you are a fine print fanatic and just love trawling through hundreds of documents and forms, the visa process will be a nightmare. If, like me, you are one easily overwhelmed by forms, I would strongly suggest you strive to make your budget stretch to hire an immigration lawyer.
Brittany and I were fortunate enough to be able to hire one, and it was by far the best money we’ve spent. Our lawyer helped us decide which visa to get, gave us a nice list of all the forms and documents we needed to collect, and guided us through the entire process.
We’re still working through the tail end of the process (my application for my Adjustment of Status is underway at the moment), but so far it has gone without a hitch. That is entirely thanks to our lawyer for his fastidiousness, and God, for His grace in allowing us to be together much sooner than we expected.