For those that are regulars to my site, will know that I share a lot of tips and advice on the US visa journey. It’s a long process that has often stressed me out due to paperwork not making sense, long waiting games, slow processing speeds and horrendous medical experiences! I’m just about to start another process to remove the conditions of my Green Card and I’ve only been here two years, it’s far too soon after the first part of the process, I’m still recovering! It then got me interested into what the process is like for other nationalities and other countries and if they are stressful regardless of where in the world you are wanting to relocate to! I reached out to other travel bloggers to find out their visa journey experiences!
Worldwide Permanent Resident Visa Journey Experiences
UK to Australia (Permanent Resident Visa)
USA to Morocco (Spouse Based Residency)
Philippines to Norway (Student Visa to Residency Visa)
New Zealand to France (French Long Stay Visa)
USA to Germany (Trailing Spouse Visa)
USA to UK (UK Spouse Visa)
Indonesia to USA (F-1 Student, H-1B Work Visa, Permanent Residency, Citizenship)
UK to Canada (Common Law Sponsorship)
UK to Australia
Visa Type: Permanent Resident Visa
James – Worldtravelchef.com
Originally from Australia like most young Australian’s I headed off to the UK for a few years of work and adventure after my apprenticeship. Staying longer than I intended I returned home to live nearly 10 years later with a wife and two children in tow. My children automatically get Australian Citizenship from birth but my British wife would have to apply for a residency visa before we could emigrate. With two Australian children it would automatically be permanent residency which was a big step forward. Without Australian children it would be temporary for 2 years then we’d have to apply for permanent.
Online numerous companies do it for 3-4 times the cost of doing the application directly yourself. I would still have to provide all the information.. I’m a chef not a lawyer but the forms were very straight forward so I did it myself. Granted it takes a lot of leg work to collect all the information especially as a lot of signatures and proof of relationship needed to come from Australia for us.
My big tip for a successful application is take your time and make sure you follow all the questions to the letter however weird. Make sure that you have 1 official form with both of your names at the same address on it for at least the last 4 years. For us in London the council tax bill was all we needed to provide for the last 6 years. We had mortgage papers ready to show but they didn’t need it. Photos don’t count and are a waste of time.
When you need people to witness and countersign (often you’d need a countersign when someone signs the form) about the relationship try and get as many Government people as possible. Besides my father everyone else had government clearance with the Australian government including one lady who’d worked for the Immigration Department for 51 years. While their position won’t hold anymore power it means that when the form is checked by the immigration department all of the people are on the ‘system’ and so saves a huge amount of time and energy checking out this people.
It was 1 kg of paper work that I submitted in total. I also dropped the application off in person at the Australian Embassy in London which meant it got to the front of the line as the person had it delivered to their desk. She wasn’t happy about this and advised against it but I definitely think this sped up my application.
From when I first dropped off the paperwork to the visa being stamped into the passport was just 6 weeks. Including having to send in additional paperwork that I missed on the first application.
USA to Morocco
Visa Type: Spouse (Marriage) Based Residency
Amanda – marocmama.com
There are only a few categories that foreigners can apply for a residency visa/permit in Morocco. The easiest is a spousal visa. Overall the process was a “given” if everything was submitted but it can be frustrating. There isn’t a very standardised procedure. Each city has a list of documents and requirements that applicants needs to produce and some things are vague (like the spouse needing to prove “enough” income with no actual figure). The first visa is good for 1 year, when re-applying it can be longer, but you need to produce all of the same documents for the second time.
A tip for helping others in a similar situation: Check and double check the list of documents required, gather everything and then submit. Prepare to go back multiple times or for the requirements to change. Have buckets of patience!
Philippines to Norway
Visa Type: Student Visa to Resident Visa
Pierre – anythingunderourstars.com
I’m originally a nurse from the Philippines with the hope of finding a good paying job abroad. So I stumbled upon, Norway as a destination.There is such a huge influx of nurses until now in my country that nurses are either working in different professions or working abroad. In 2013, Norway was suddenly the talk of our town that it had a huge demand for health workers back in the day. So I applied and tried my luck in Norway. Though nothing really was an assurance that I’d be successful but I just had to take a risk. The only way to get in was as a Student to learn the language for a year. I had 3 options to renew my visa:
1) Find a regular job within a year and renew the student visa to a working visa.
2) Renew the visa as a jobseeker for 6 months after the previous visa expired (think about the amount of pressure this would be).
3) Go home to mommy and daddy and let them baby me once again.
It was a ” win or go home” situation for me. I wouldn’t settle for the second option and neither was moving back to my folks an option. I wanted a regular job within a year! That was the plan. I had to go to school to learn the language and at the same time find a job. I had to keep my spirits up and be patient. I got hooked on “The Secret” video that time which taught me how to have a positive mindset. I was positive than I ever since I had no choice. The first two companies that I worked for offered me contractual contracts but I was so desperate that I had to take it to survive. But despite those circumstances, I was positive. I kept on going. Fast forward, after 9 months of applying for a job, I got a regular job at a nursing home. Since then everything fell in to place. After three years of having gone through a work visa, I renewed my visa to a resident visa.
Even though failures come along the way, don’t let it stop you from moving forward. Search and you will find.
Positivity goes a long way. I could have given up and flew back home but I believed in myself that in a matter of time everything turned out right. And it did if you put it into action.
New Zealand to France
Visa Type: French Long Stay Visa
Nadine – Lelongweekend.com
As a New Zealander married to a Frenchman, I mistakenly thought it would be straightforward to obtain a long-stay visa in France. The reality turned out to be much more complicated!
The process started in New Zealand where we had to first register our marriage with the French consulate. A criterion we had overlooked when we got married outside of France! From there I could apply for the entry visa to France, and I would continue the process to apply for my carte de séjour (residency permit) once we moved. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of clear information on how visas work in France and every prefecture (town’s administration) seems to have different rules and processes. This made it incredibly difficult to know what we had to have ready for my visa application appointment.
For anyone going through the same process, I’d highly recommend ringing your local prefecture to ask them directly what information they need to process your application. And remember, the French love their paperwork, so be sure to bring everything you think may be relevant to your case. In many cases, paperwork also needs to be translated, less than 3-months old, and an original copy! My final piece of advice? Be sure to book your appointment well in advance, as it often takes 3 months to get an appointment.
USA to Germany
Visa Type: Trailing Spouse Visa
Ann – kidstravelbooks.com
We lived in Germany for five years. We visited our town’s Auslaenderbehorder office many times to obtain and renew our visas. We also got visas for our two kids who were born while we lived there. Through the course of these five years (plus attempts to get a visa in the town my husband worked with before we had an apartment lease), I learned one thing – the process will not always be the same.
With that in mind, here are my tips. First, patience. Find out what paperwork you need in advance, and obtain it. This means getting your photo taken (at a professional photo place) in advance. Update those photos whenever you renew your visa. Check online to see if you have to make an appointment with your local office. Even if it isn’t required, do it if you can. Print out your appointment confirmation as you may need it to enter the building. (There were times we didn’t need it and times we did. Our last visit required the confirmation and an airport-type security line). Arrive early. Prepare to speak German or have something with you to help you translate. In our experience it wasn’t a one-stop shop. We went into one office to confirm we were there, another office to discuss our visa, we were sent to another to pay, returned to show proof of payment, and finally an office to pick up our visas. Between each office we were sent into the waiting room. It can be a long process.
I like this link: http://www.germany-visa.org/work-employment-visa/
USA to UK
Visa Type: UK Spouse Visa
Anisa – twotravelingtexans.com
I am from the USA and last year I got my UK Spouse Visa so that I could move to England to be with my husband. The visa application required a lot more documentation that I would have expected. We spent hours pulling it all together. Next, I had a biometrics appointment, where I was fingerprinted. Then, we submitted the application and had to wait. It took three long months for us to get the approval.
If you want to apply for a UK Spouse Visa, be thorough and organised with your paperwork and patient during the waiting period. Don’t waste your money calling the UKVI hotline. If you did your homework, you will get approved, it just may take longer than you like.
Indonesia to USA
Visa Type: F-1 Student, H-1B Work Visa, Permanent Residency, Citizenship
Halef – thertwguys.com
I grew up in Indonesia and decided to pursue my higher education in the United States.
When I got accepted to my university, I was able to apply for the F-1 Student Visa. After graduating, I began to work in the U.S. on the famous H-1B work visa and started the process, through my employer, to get Permanent Residency (i.e., Green Card). After nearly 18 years navigating this process, I became a U.S. Citizen in 2017.
The U.S. Visa system, especially the work and immigrant visas, is very difficult to navigate. You need to completely understand the classes and visa types you’re applying for and dot every “i” and cross every “t”. In my opinion, it’s worth the money to hire an immigration lawyer to assist you in all this. USCIS will not hesitate to reject applications with errors and that could change the entire course of your future in the United States.
In the end though, it was completely worth the effort! I now have a passport that is widely recognized and accepted. And I don’t have to apply for nearly as many visas when I travel as I used to!
UK to Canada
Visa Type: Common Law Sponsorship (for Permanent Residency)
Gemma – www.offtracktravel.ca
I met my Canadian boyfriend while visiting New Zealand in 2009. We knew each other for just three days and then stayed in touch online. Six months later, he came to visit me in the UK and that was it…we haven’t really separated since.
After a short time living together in the UK while I finished my degree (with him on a working holiday visa), we headed to British Columbia, Canada. This time I was the one a working holiday visa. Less than six months into the move, we started to think about what to do long term. I could get another year-long working holiday visa but then what?
This was just after the UK changed their spouse visa rules to include an income requirement. Both being ski bums on the mountains of British Columbia at the time, that didn’t seem like a promising option. Looking into the Canadian side of things, there was no financial requirement, just lots of paperwork and around $2000 of fees. That seems a little more achievable, so Canada it was!
After reading more into the Canadian Permanent Residency sponsorship rules, I discovered that we wouldn’t even have to get married to do the application. Living together for one year ‘as married’ (sharing finances, being committed to each other, presenting ourselves as a couple etc) was considered to be a common law relationship and our application would be considered in the same category as if we were married. The only real difference between a common law/spousal sponsorship application in Canada is the lack of marriage certificate and the responsibility to provide enough proof of a committed relationship in absence of that.
The common law/spousal PR application is fairly straightforward in Canada but it requires plenty of patience. For one thing, you will need patience to first read the full application guide (several times!) to fully understand the process. Then, you will need to take a few weeks (or months, in my case) to gather all the required evidence and complete the documentation. Finally, you wait. There is A LOT of waiting with Canadian immigration. My application took just about 12 months from start to final approval but I was then expected to wait up to 6 months for a ‘landing interview’ in Vancouver as I had applied inland.
The most confusing part of the Canadian common law/spousal application is the ability to apply either ‘inland’ or ‘outland.’ Outland means the application is processed outside of Canada, in the applicant’s home country or nearest processing office. Inland means processing happens in Canada – for this, the applicant must be living in Canada throughout the application. The confusing bit is that applicants living in Canada can also apply outland.
The reason why this is all so important? Outland is usually faster than outland (depends on the visa office) BUT with the inland process, an open work permit can be applied for, allowing the applicant to work while waiting. I did the latter but I’m not sure I could really recommend it over outland due to the necessity for needing that landing interview (outland applicants can just arrive at one of Canada’s borders to activate their PR) and the longer wait time overall.
I received PR status in Canada in April 2014 and will be taking my citizenship test in March. Hopefully, I will become a Canadian citizen just in time for this year’s Canada Day (July 1st)!
Can you relate to any of these experiences? You can find my experience as a Brit emigrating to the USA on a spouse visa (US Green Card) in my CR1 Spouse Visa Journey resources!