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Travel or Immigrate, don't get deported! Do your homework
How I got deported
I am an American living in London UK. My move did not run smoothly as the title might suggest. My visa is a marriage visa and yes I did manage to get my visa sorted eventually. Mine is a story of internet romance and my husband and I have now been married 5 years going on 6.
I hope to help you to avoid the problems I had in making my fairy tale come true. Getting my passport was the first hurdle to overcome and anyone wanting to travel internationally is going to have to have a passport. I moved in with my dad for a while while waiting for the passport to come through. While I was waiting I emailed the local british consulate to ask about the requirements for a marriage visa. I had hoped that I could come to London and have a bit of a trial period to make sure that I was doing the right thing and that we did want to marry. I had planned that if all went well I would apply for the visa from London and if things did not work out so well then hey it was a fun holiday. I stated that this was my hope and to advise if this would be ok in my email to the british consulate. The email I got back was lovely wishing me all the best and assuring me that I could apply for the visa in London.
So I buy a one way ticket (to save money) and get on my long long flight from San Francisco to London. That was one long trip! When we came in for a landing I was very excited to be starting a new adventure in my life. I was dying for a smoke as well! So I get in the cue through customs, and when its my turn there is some problem. Turns out that you cannot enter the country on a one way airplane ticket, nor can you apply for a visa to stay in the country from inside the country! I sat down and cried and waited and cried some more. I just could not believe I was being deported! I was not smuggling drugs! I was not a terrorist! I was just young and in love! I was actually pretty scared.
I think the customs lady must have felt really sorry for me because she worked it so that I did not have to spend the night in a cell waiting for the first flight the next morning. My future husband was allowed to take me home for the night instead. May God bless that customs lady! I was properly proposed to the following morning before going into the airport and getting myself sent back to the States. I was told that I could not re-enter the UK without a visa in hand before trying to re-enter under any circumstance even just as a holiday with return plane ticket. It was a doubly good thing that the customs lady let me go home with my future husband as it meant that I would fulfill the visa requirements when applying.
There were a few expensive requirements to fulfill to get a marriage visa, such as having spent time physically together, talking daily (most of the day too) on the net would not have been enough! The thing is the British immigration people do not want people coming into this country to live off the dole (welfare). I have to assume that the rules around marriage visas and immigration must have been tightened up and the San Francisco consulate was not up to date on the requirements. I ended up having to use the Los Angeles british consulate to get my marriage visa, with one piece of information I may have been able to avoid a whole lot of heart ache.
My advice to anyone looking to move to a new country for any reason is double check and even triple check what requirements you need to fulfill. Every country requires a visa for entry, tho most grant the visa when you first arrive assuming you are just there on holiday. It is worth checking just in case as some few countries will require that you have a holiday visa before you get on any plane. It is also worth looking at what sort of behavior is acceptable as laws vary all over the world and you do NOT want to get into trouble in foreign lands. Even in a country that is actively looking to attract skilled people to immigrate there will most likely be a requirement to get a visa first (they will likely want to fast track you if you have an appealing skill).
As a last note, I am actually thinking of moving again! My husband and I both feel that moving to New Zealand would be a real good idea for us. It seems that they are looking for skilled people and we could be fast tracked if we can get a job offer. If we get ourselves sorted with a good job offer we could end up being able to afford a house, just not possible here.