I had the amazing opportunity of finding love while travelling. My English partner and I met while in New Zealand working (him being sponsored, myself on working holiday). We are now engaged. It’s all well and good to be with someone from another country. It’s exciting, fun, and exotic. Until the time comes when you realise that your options of where you can live together are very limited, if there are any at all. I would like to give a short history of how we have managed to keep this relationship going.
First, New Zealand is one of the few countries left where it’s relatively easy to get a temporary work visa. Especially if you are willing to put up with low-paid hospitality work. My partner used to get sponsored as a grill chef. Now he is getting sponsored to work at a liquor store. I can get a work visa through him as his partner. All it takes is a mountain of paper work proving we live together in a genuine and stable relationship. This involves pictures, copies of joint bank accounts, leases, plane tickets, ticket stubs, emails, cards, etc. The process is relatively quick and easy and because of this Steve and I are able to stay in a country together, renewable on a yearly basis.
It’s leaving New Zealand that is a problem. The UK has gotten rid of their General Skilled Migrant visa, which was pretty much my only chance of getting into the country on my own. Other than that option, I have to find a job that would sponsor me in the UK. Being a teacher, and the fact that it’s pretty complicated for a company to sponsor someone, that is pretty slim. I could get a student visa and go back to school, but that would be extremely expensive and pointless. My partner Steve is even more at a disadvantage. He would also need to find a job that would sponsor him in the US and as his background is retail we don’t think there are many opportunities.
You would think since we are getting married it would make things easier, but not really. Getting married doesn’t give the other partner automatic entry into either of our countries. It’s still all about the visa. The UK and US both have fiance visas which is good. The UK fiance visa means the fiance can enter the country and be there for 6 months until you get married and then you can apply for a spousal visa. There are two draw backs. The first is the fiance cannot work until they get married (because this makes sense?). The second is the real killer. Because my partner does not have a job in the UK and also does not have a job offer (pretty difficult to get while in New Zealand), we have to have in savings over 62,000 pounds in our acounts for at least 6 months. WHAT?? Who has that kind of money? We thought the UK would be easier for me to get into but with this requirement, we don’t understand how many people can.
So we are going the US route instead. It’s the scarier one because we have heard stories about how anal they are with paperwork and the slightest mistake can get you rejected. I had to fill out a petition for Steve for the fiance visa and sent it along with my birth certificate, proof of our relationship, passport photos (had to be careful of these as the US has different type passport photos than the rest of the world), proof we had met in the last 2 years, etc, etc. Now we get to wait at least 6 months until hopefully they approve the petition, then Steve will get interviewed at (hopefully) the consulate in New Zealand, provide a lot more other paperwork (medical, criminal background, proof that my sister will be his financial sponsor since I currently don’t have a job in the US,etc), and then he will be approved this fiance visa. Once he enters thecountry we have 3 months to get married, then we apply for his Green Card and he gets to wait in the US and work while we wait for that to go through.
Maybe you are thinking that if we get married in New Zealand it would be easier. Well, not really. We still wouldn’t meet the financial requirement in the UK and we will would have to wait ages to get a Green Card for him. Plus most of our family wouldn’t be able to come to the wedding since we are so far away. We were also thinking about possibly getting residency in New Zealand but we don’t think its feasible in our situation and we also don’t want to live in New Zealand forever. It’s an awesome country but we are ready to settle and be by our families at home.
Hopefully in a year this will all be done.
I love my partner and so this is all worth it. But there are times I wished more than anything he was from the same country as me. We’ve spent hours researching, thinking, planning. I am so thankful every day that we are able to find a temporary home in New Zealand.
We can’t help but think of all the foreign people that are in the US and the UK. How is it that they can get in and it’s so complicated for us to bring our fiance/spouse (whom are educated, trained, would not be any drain on the public systems) in?