Philippine passport is ranked 70th most powerful passports in the world (as of May 2018). It means that a Filipino can travel 66 countries out of 105 destinations, visa free. Amazing, isn’t? Because visa processing is stressful, expensive and we hear a lot of stories about failing to acquire one, this is sort of a good news because it means we do not have to worry much about travelling outside the country . However, my dream destination is not included in the list, the United Kingdom.
Book 1 – The Waiting Game, The Saga Begins
My then fiancé, Matt, is from the UK. After his 3rd visit in the Philippines, he asked me to come and visit him in the UK, meet his friends and family, spend Christmas together, and see if I would like to live there. The idea was exciting and scary at the same time. But the thought of meeting his family and learning more about his world is more thrilling than asking myself with what ifs. While we were discussing the documents we need to submit, we have decided that it will be a good opportunity to get married, too. Fortunately, the UK Home Office released a new visa scheme that will allow a non-British national to get married in the UK under a visit visa called Married Visit Visa. We then collected additional documents and when we were ready, I lodged a visa application.
Chapter 1 – The Stress and Pressure
I was confident that I will be granted a visa because every document that was in the UK visa site was submitted. We have to wait for 15 working days to know the result and we were so excited for it. I talked to my manager about my plan and I was expecting it to be discreet (I requested) until I secure my visa however, my manager that time was hired 2 months ago and he panicked. He told everyone in our team and it added up to the pressure and stress of waiting for my visa result.
The day that we’ve been waiting for arrived and when I was handed over the enveloped, I was so sad when I learned that I was refused an entry. The reason was due to inconsistencies in the details I put in my application versus document submitted. Admittedly, this was a mistake in my part. I was so frustrated and felt like I was deprived of my right to spend Christmas with my fiancé (lol!). I also felt a little hate towards my manager because now my colleagues knew about it, too (another lol!). Matt took it lightly on the other hand and comforted me.
Chapter 2 – Just Another Same Story
After a week, I lodged my 2nd visa application after we checked all details in application form and documents. This time, we were very confident as we covered the refusal reasons stated in visa refusal letter. Sadly, I was refused an entry for the 2nd time. This time we couldn’t understand why because the reasons they mentioned in the letter such as missing documents were in fact included. Matt was more devastated this time and wanted to write to the embassy and point out that they failed to check all my documents. Unfortunately, appeal will take months and I just lost hope to spend Christmas with him.
Chapter 3 – Never Say Never
Matt wanted to apply visa for the 3rd time but I was reluctant. I told him that the most secure way is to hold the wedding in the Philippines instead and apply for spouse visa. It means will have to wait until July or so the next year to see each other again. But Matt was very persistent in trying another application. So I did, just not to let him down. I was not hopeful this time since there were no changes in the information we had from my 2nd application. I was not looking forward to the day when I receive the result because I don’t want to experience another rejection so when letter arrived, I was not excited to open it. I was in 7-11 when I opened it. I was so ready for another rejection that I went to the store so I can buy myself a nice food in case the result is not favourable to us again. And for our 3rd try, my visa was APPROVED! I couldn’t express how happy we were when I got my visa!
I only had few days to prepare the documents I needed, my things and turn over some work to my teammates. After a week, I flew to the UK and was able to spend 6 weeks with Matt. He took me to local places, met some friends and colleagues and spent Christmas with him and his family.
In January 2019, we got married and spent our honeymoon in London. We visited the famous tourist spots and we had a great time. After a couple of weeks, I returned to the Philippines and waited for our marriage to be registered.
Final Chapter – A New Journey
After waiting for almost 2 months, I got our Philippine marriage certificate and started collecting documents again for my Spouse visa. This time is more challenging as it requires more documents and longer waiting time. It was said that the process is easier though. But the 3 previous applications I experienced thought me a lot. As they say, experience is the best teacher. This time, I was more careful with the details in my documents. When we were ready, I lodged my application and the waiting game started. After 3 months, I got my APPROVED spouse visa. After 3 weeks, I flew to UK.
I would say that my journey was not easy. The stress from collecting documents, checking if everything was correct, the application submission itself and the number of days of waiting for the result are beyond measure. Others may have not experienced what I have gone through but we share the same feeling of excitement and worry when we received our passport back and check if there is a visa sticker attached to it, LOL! I hope that if you ever come across with visa processing, I hope that you will not make the same mistakes I did. Dive in to more research and maybe ask friends who had done the same visa. It will not make you any harm but will save you time and money.
Book 2 – Road to a New Adventures (to be continued …)
My journey is not finish, yet. I still have to undergo 2 visa extensions before I get my British citizenship but hopefully those will not be as heartbreaking like I have experienced. The road might not be easy, it could be scary and bumpy but I would always take the risks if it means being with my husband and spend new adventures together.
By: Queenci Harris