One of (many) reasons I chose the UK as my destination, when I decided I wanted to move, was that– thanks to two UK-born grandparents– I was eligible for a five year ancestry visa. It used to be that British grandparents would make me eligible for a passport, but they’ve tightened those restrictions. Still, five years is plenty, and if it isn’t, I’m eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain at the end of them.
Compared to a points-based visa, or a spousal visa, the ancestry visa is pretty straightforward: you need to prove that you have at least one UK-born grandparent, that you have money to support yourself when you get there, and that you’re looking for a job. Obviously, not having criminal convictions helps, and there’s various other things you need to fill out, but it’s pretty cut-and-dried. Either you have the requisite relations, or you don’t.
This meant, of course, that I had to track down birth certificates for my grandparents. I prioritised my granddad, who was born in Southampton, because he was born and died with the same surname as me, and I thought that would make things simpler. It was a relatively simple process to order: I found his birth registration on the rolls, filled out a form, and– theoretically– I would receive the proper certificate in five to seven working days. Plus the several days of processing time.
(It was more out of curiosity than anything, at this point, that I also ordered my grandmother’s birth certificate from Scotland.)
The several days of processing time, though, were beginning to worry me. I really wanted to get this application in soon, because once I’d decided I was going to move, I wanted everything to happen immediately. I ended up ordering a second copy of the certificate, this time paying for priority processing– that, surely, would get to me quickly!
I went home at lunch to check the mail every day for a week. Five working days. Ten working days. ‘Wait a few more days’ they told me, when I sent in an email concerned about the lack of certificate arrival. My timeline was shortening; I was beginning to panic.
My grandmother’s certificate shipped a full week after the second of my granddad’s, but that was ok; I didn’t expect to need it.
Only… Grandma’s arrived four days after it was shipped. And granddad’s still hadn’t.
Ok: change of plans. My dad’s birth certificate (obtained via my parents; thank you!) had her full birth name on it; it would be fine.
I submitted the application form. I booked my biometrics appointment. And then… I realised that I needed more than just a print out from the internet to prove my financial worth; I needed a bank stamp on it.
I postponed the biometrics appointment. I ordered the bank statement from my bank (‘twenty-four to forty-eight hours to process’). And I… waited. Impatiently. Again. I really needed it to come on time.
It arrived two hours before I needed to leave for my biometrics appointment. Phew! Note to self: in future, pay more attention to minutiae like that. There’s no need to leave it to the last minute. It’s so unlike me, too, but… stress. Let’s call it stress.
Anyway. The biometrics appointment took forever, but went fine. They took my passport, the birth certificates, and the rest of my documentation, and sent it off to Manila. I paid for priority processing so that it wouldn’t take weeks, and then I… waited. I panicked. A lot. What if I’d forgotten something? What if they lost it? What if I didn’t get it back in good time and then they rejected it and I didn’t have time for a second attempt before my flight? What if…
Happily, I can report that – just over a week after I sent it all off – my passport (with all important visa stamp) was returned to me today.
This time in two weeks, it will be my turn to fly to Manila. Hopefully my passport can show me the way!
(Oh, and? After I complained a second time about my birth certificates not showing up, a second batch were sent. And, of course, the next day? The original order showed up. So soon I will have four copies.)