Visa Applications

The following post is about visa application for a U.S. citizen moving to the UK on a Tier 4 student visa. Regulations are always changing and the process may change when you start your visa application. I write this as general advice.

The visa application process begins 90 days before your program begins. The 90 days before your program is the 90th day from the date that your acceptance letter tells you that it begins (The 90 days for me was not actually when my modules start but when orientation begins). So, by this time you have already applied to your chosen programs, and confirmed with the university that you are accepting their offer to study. Be warned–when the 90 days finally hits, you have a lot of work to do! You are probably trying to sell a lot of your possessions and possibly a home if you own one. (The fact is, you own more than you want to ship to the UK, and your probably don’t like your stuff enough to pay for storage for however long you’ll be gone. We’ve been fortunate that we sold the vast majority of our things and what we do have left Aubree’s Mom is storing in her attic.)

You are going to busy logistically on top of the job you probably have, spending time with your family, and studying. Filling out the application for your visa immediately is important so don’t put it off. It takes a couple of weeks for them to be processed and then you’ll want to buy your plane tickets, so you want to give yourself plenty of time to make sure your visas were approved and buy plane tickets at a reasonable amount of time before your arrival.

After you have accepted your offer from your University they will soon send you what is called a CAS # (I can’t remember what it stands for presently). This is the number that you will need in order to fill our your application.

The actually filling out of the application is not too difficult as long you know exactly what they are asking for which is sometimes not the clearest. One example from our experience was what is our “Given Names.” In the U.S. anytime you have to fill out your name on an application for example it usually asks for you FIRST NAME, MIDDLE NAMELAST NAME. For the visa application form is just asks for your GIVEN NAME and then for your SURNAME. We simply assumed that my given name is Lucas. What becomes even more fuzzy is that on the online portion of the application when you hover over the help icon it just says, “Given Name such as John.” The key is to enter everything as it appears on your passport. My given name is Lucas Glen. As long as you enter it in all the information as it appears on your passport you should be fine.

I also had a bit of confusion on the biometric appointment that is needed. I was confused about how to make an appointment and when to make it. If you complete your application online, after you complete your application online you will be directed to schedule an appointment. Each member of your family going to the UK with you will also have to have their own appointments so try and schedule them as close together as you can.

After completing the application and attending your biometric appointment you will have to print off your application and then mail it to the UKBA in New York. When you mail it in, I would suggest 1 day shipping in order for it to arrive faster. Once they receive it, you should receive an email from the UKBA saying that they have received your application and a general time frame for when they will inform you if it was accepted. After they review your application they will then email you again saying it was accepted or not and then 1 day ship your package back to you.

This was our general experience. I had a lot of anxiety because applying for a visa is expensive and you don’t want to have it rejected because of a simple mistake and then have to re-apply.

First Post from Edinburgh

Greetings from Edinburgh. I landed on Tuesday after around 18 hours of travel. It was a bit shocking to finally arrive but I am excited to be here. Within a few short days, I can see why so many Edinburgh alums were sad when their programs ended and had to leave. It is such a lovely city. Each day I am shocked by the treasures I discover.

The first few days in Edinburgh were busy. Busy, busy. I spent the majority of my time trying to find a flat before Aubree arrives. After a couple of frustrating days of emailing, calling, and viewing around the city I found a nice flat that Aubree and I can call home. It is located just outside of New Town and is around a 20 min. walk to New College. After securing our flat I then opened up a bank account which was quick because I had all the right documents. The last couple of days I have been enjoying the city and exploring what she offers.

I plan on my next post will be about the visa application process for an American coming to the UK. I have reflected on this process for a bit and thought it my be helpful for others considering making the move. All the best to you who read this blog.

Leaving Raleigh

I’ve been a bit slow on blogging lately because of the upcoming move to Edinburgh. It was troublesome to make time to actually preparing for school let alone blogging to the three of you who read this. The month of July was busy. Filled with home repairs, Craig’s List, and donations and on 2 August with renters moved in, Aubree and I officially left Raleigh.

It was definitely bitter sweet. We are both extremely excited about moving to Scotland and the numerous adventures that will include. But I think it hit us both that we are saying good-bye to our home. Aubree and I were married in Kansas City, then lived in Branson, MO for the first 3 months before moving to North Carolina. For us, Raleigh was our home–it was what we knew and those in our community knew us. We were saying good-bye to the community that the Lord had blessed us with for nearly 5 years. We both came to the realisation (I’ve started writing in Queen’s English to get prepared) that if we would not have been blessed by great community it would not have been as hard to say good-bye.

So we drove from Raleigh back to Missouri and Arkansas to visit our families. We have been nomads these last few weeks but are thankful for the time we have spent with our families. It is the most concentrated time either of us have had with our families since we left. Now, time is being devoted to last minute items before ground control to Major Tom–photocopies of passports, plane tickets, matriculation forms, Greek, and Hebrew. Three days and counting to my new home, the Old Country.

Visa approved

I am very excited to announce that my visa application was approved. I received the email yesterday from the UK Border Agency. Once I had sent in the application, it took around 6 days to hear back on its status. Although the directions for completing the visa from A-Z could be much clearer I am happy about the turnout time of hearing it was approved.

I just purchased my one-way plane ticket to Edinburgh. I arrive on August 21. That gives me just over a month to get everything else in order and to visit family before leaving.

Finding a flat in the UK

As my wife’s and my time in the U.S. continues tick down, I find myself searching for flats in Edinburgh more often. Although still a bit soon to be doing any real type of search for a new home, I find it helpful to see what kinds of options will be available to us.

The difficulty finding a flat for us is that we are bringing our dog along. The process of bringing a dog with us, is every bit of a hassel as it sounds and often proves challenging to find living arrangements that allow for pets. A website that I have found helpful so far is Lettingweb contains an advanced search feature that filters your searches for pet friendly flats among other amenities. Hopefully, this website might prove helpful to anyone else that may be searching for a home in the UK.