Welcome to the online diary of the “London Ziegs,” as they journal their experiences relocating from the balmy climes of sunny Orlando, Florida to the more chaotically cosmopolitan environment of London, UK!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Tier-1 Visas

So it took something like five months to get my HSMP work permit (one month of documentation-gathering, followed by four months of processing by the Home Office). I had honestly thought that, once the work permit was in hand, all the risky (and costly) approvals would be in place.

Little did I realize that the entry clearance visa can be nearly as complicated to obtain, and surprisingly more expensive! While only the family "wage-earner" requires a work permit (which conveniently authorizes the dependent spouse and children to work as well), every family member requires their own entry clearance visa.

Oddly, many of the documentation requirements already established by the work permit application have to be repeated for the visas; fortunately, such overlap means that most of the hard work is already done, although financial records may need updated with current statements. We were fortunate that my employer was willing to help expedite the processing turnaround, which was then completed within just a couple of days.

Anyway, not a major obstacle, just one we hadn't fully appreciated and accounted for in our initial planning -- so be sure to research it in full if you plan to attempt something similar :-) Note that to obtain your visas, you'll need to FedEx your original passports the responsible consulate along with your application -- a somewhat nervous procedure.

Also, I'm unsure of how the appropriate consulate is determined -- the visa4uk.fco.gov.uk website somehow "decided" that ours was to be issued via Chicago (vs Los Angelas, which we had been led to expect), so pay close attention to where your application needs to be submitted. Also note that the "estimated" date of arrival in the UK ends up being an enforced minimum, so estimate an early date versus a later one if you expect your schedule may change.

Finally, note that any errors in the application process can cause your application to be rejected without reimbursement -- a potentially hefty sum if multiple family members are involved -- so it may be worth retaining a service to make sure everything goes right the first time.

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