Today’s post continues my series on UK immigration via Category A spousal route, and here I’ll be showing you how to prove that your relationship with your British spouse is genuine and ongoing.
Disclaimer: I do not claim to be an immigration adviser. I am not any kind of professional. I’m merely giving my own input and experience in UK immigration, and it should be treated as such. However, I hope it eases your confusion and helps you on your journey to Britain. I highly recommend consulting ExpatForum whether or not you have additional questions, as my experience is limited.
Proving that your relationship is the trickiest part of the application, but it’s not necessarily difficult if you can easily gather what you need. The hardest part for me was gathering our communication evidence into an easy-to-read format, but it was really more tedious than anything. It’s best to get a handle on this early on so you’ll stay caught up and won’t have to worry very much by the time you’re getting ready to apply.
What you WILL need*:
– 10-15 photographs spanning your relationship, including wedding photos.
– Chat and call logs to prove you consistently talk with your spouse.
– Flight itineraries and/or boarding passes to prove you have visited one another.
– Original marriage certificate.
– If one or both of you has been married before, the original divorce certificate(s).**
*You’ll need a tad more evidence if you’re applying for a fiance or marriage visitor visa. For instance, you should provide receipts for your wedding rings, dress, tux rental, proof of venue booking, and similar.
**Along with the divorce certificate from my previous marriage, I included a typed note briefly explaining that Jon’s and my relationship began while I was waiting to divorce my first husband, as Ontario has a one-year separation law, and that Jon was not involved in that marriage’s breakdown in any way.
What you WON’T need:
– Letters or cards to each other.
– Receipts or photos of gifts bought for each other.
– Tickets or receipts for events you attended together.
– Letters from friends or family members vouching for your relationship.
– Record of solemnization.
– Chat logs or any other forms of communication while you two are together in person.
Photos – We included 16 photographs across the history of our relationship. Some of these were selfies with each other, the rest were taken by other people. A few of them included friends and family, and you could easily tell in the photos that we were in various places at various times of the year; I don’t know how important these factors were, but I was advised to have this sort of variety, so I made sure I had plenty of it. I included five wedding photos, too.
Using Photoshop, I made all the photos a uniform size (6×4 for landscape-oriented pics, 4×6 for portrait-oriented pics) and printed them out on photo paper.
I neatly cut the photos out and arranged them on regular printer paper, two photos per sheet, to make sure I had the layout I wanted before attaching them. When I was satisfied by the placement, I used glue dots to attach them.
I typed up some brief descriptions for each photo in a plain Word document, printed the paper out, and cut out the descriptions and used glue dots to attach them under or beside each photo. These descriptions included the date, location, a one-sentence description of where we were, and the names of anyone else in the photo.
Travel Itineraries/Boarding Passes – Your boarding passes can be originals or photocopies, either way is good. These prove you and your spouse have taken the effort to visit each other.
Communication Records – You should only have about 15 pages in total that evenly spreads across the time you and your spouse are physically apart. I know it may seem like UKVI should have more than that, especially if you’re apart for long stretches of time, but the last thing they need is tons of paperwork to sift through. 15 pages keeps things simple and clear for them, unlike the 100 or so pages I’ve heard of other applicants sending in.
What your ECO will be looking for is record of consistent communication across whatever you use. They don’t care about the details of your private conversations, so you don’t need to include them if you’d rather preserve your privacy. I was advised to include screenshots along with text logs, as there was the slight possibility that my ECO could consider simple text logs faked, so I will advise you do the same thing if possible. I was also advised to show that we chatted or called each other on important dates such as birthdays, Valentine’s Day, Christmas, and New Year’s.
You’ll want both your names to show up in some of the logs; Viber’s log automatically had my name as “Me”, and so my Skype screenshots were the only thing that showed my name as well as Jon’s.
I made three separate chat and video logs. One for Skype screenshots, one for Skype calls, and one for Viber conversations. Each log was neatly divided into the different times we had been apart and was titled with the appropriate dates. I really like to be organized, and I was quite bent upon making sure everything was very tidy for my ECO without seeming like I was patronizing them.
I selected a random day in each month we were apart and took a screenshot of my Skype. In Photoshop, I cut the screenshot down to just include my Skype screen, including the conversation and my account name to show that it was really me. As we mostly used Skype for calls, there wasn’t much text to display out in the open. I then strung the cropped images together, three per page, in a Word document.
Skype call log:
I picked call logs from once per week that we were apart, and copy/pasted them into a Word file. Pasting automatically includes a date and time stamp, which is pretty handy. I included a line where the call began, and the next line where the call ended.
Viber chat log:
This one was a bit tricky and took me a while to make into a neat form. In the mobile version of the app, you can email yourself your chat history. From there, it’s a matter of going on your computer and settling down with Excel (or a free alternative, such as LibreOffice’s Calc) and separating all that conversation. I’m terrible with Excel/Calc, so you may figure out an easier way of doing this. Fortunately, all the time stamps, phone numbers, and names are there in neat order for you. Viber was our most-used chat app, so there were thousands of lines for me to sift through!
I separated the chat logs down to one instance per six or so days that we were apart. For each instance, I included five lines that included time and date stamps, and our names and phone numbers. The conversations themselves were left out.
Like with the other logs, I separated them into three sections, one for each time we were apart. Each section consisted of two pages. The end result looked like this (but with the phone numbers not blurred out):
I hope this helps you in gathering what you need to prove your relationship. You can do this!