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For couples who are in an international long distance relationship that will involve immigration issues, you need to research what visas will be required and make sure you really look into what the process is to obtain those visas.

The process of immigrating to another country is often complicated and may prove to be the greatest challenge of your long distance relationship. You are at the mercy of governments to decide the fate of whether you and your long distance partner will be able to live together and there’s usually a lot of waiting involved. You can easily feel as though you are in limbo during this period.

For long distance couples residing in the same country, relocating to another state or region becomes a lot simpler because there isn’t much in the way of legal issues stopping you. However, there will still be important issues you will have to deal with. Here are some things to know if you are planning on moving to be with your long distance relationship partner and potential immigration issues to be aware of.

Moving in Long Distance Relationships : Relocation and Immigration


Moving Internationally

For those that find themselves immigrating to another country to live with their long distance partner, things can get quite complicated. Immigrating to another country involves a lot of paperwork and requires even more patience. The process of moving to another country used to be fairly easy. Today we find that many countries are beginning to tighten their borders to “foreign invaders”. It is feared that too much immigration will lead to overpopulation, loss of jobs for current citizens, and become a strain on a range of systems such as healthcare.

Every year, the process of immigration becomes stricter, more expensive, and more demanding in terms of what documents or evidence is needed to prove you and your partner are in a bona fide relationship. The waiting time involved from the moment you submit your application to the time your visa or permanent residency is approved has also dramatically increased for many countries in the last few years.

This may be due to immigration department budget cuts where there are not enough case officers to handle the amount of people wishing to immigrate, or the increase in waiting times may be purposely put in place to act as a deterrent. Whatever the truth is, the result is that immigration is often a long arduous process.

Obtaining a visa to actually travel to another country permanently is the first step to immigrating. You will be required to fill out pages and pages of documents and will need to submit mounds of evidence that prove the authenticity of your relationship. You will be required to undergo health examinations to prove you don’t have any serious diseases that may place a burden on the health system you are immigrating to. In addition you will have to undergo numerous local and federal police checks to prove you don’t have a criminal record. This is where your past can come back to really haunt you, as some offences may deem you ineligible to immigrate to the country you wish to.

Once you gather all the required information and documents, you then submit your application and it sits on a desk somewhere for a very long time. You are often given a very rough approximate waiting time that never seems to prove accurate. Waiting times for approvals may quote 6 months but could take double that time. This is where you and your long distance partner need to be patient and flexible. Sadly, you are often forced into a situation where you can’t make plans for getting married or living together until your visa is approved. This of course can put a lot of strain on your relationship.

How to survive and make a long distance relationship last successful

When and if you hopefully receive your visa to immigrate, it generally allows you permanent residency strictly on a temporary basis. This means that during a set amount of time you have to maintain a clean criminal record and continue to save evidence of you and your partner’s relationship. You may at anytime be forced to go in for a face to face interview with a case officer whose goal is to determine if your relationship is legitimate.

The reason for this “temporary” permanent residency is to stop sham marriages where citizens of another country con, pay, or simply talk someone into marrying them in order to gain citizenship in a more favorable country. By increasing the cost, time, and difficulty of the immigration process, it has led to a decrease in fraudulent marriage cases in many countries.

In addition to maintaining a good character image, there may also be certain restrictions involved during your temporary permanent resident status. You may only be allowed to travel outside of your new country for a certain amount of time each year and may not have full access to all government programs. You will generally be allowed to work in your new country but there may even be restrictions when it comes to employment as well. For instance, even if you are a permanent resident in Australia, you cannot apply for a government position until you become a citizen.

Eventually, you will be allowed to apply for citizenship. The time you must be a permanent resident before doing this varies depending on the country you are immigrating to. In addition, the government can pass new legislation which changes the immigration laws at any time. You may think you will be able to apply for citizenship next month for instance, but then new laws get passed which make you wait an additional two years before being allowed to apply.

Even once you have received citizenship in another country, the long ordeal may not exactly be over. You may be forced to make a decision of whether you wish to hold dual citizenship or renounce your citizenship from your previous country you once called home. The decision is not one to be taken lightly as it is irreversible.

While it may seem a no-brainer to retain your previous citizenship, you may not be allowed to depending on the country you are immigrating to. Many countries do not allow for people to be dual citizens. You may also want to renounce your citizenship for tax purposes or to become eligible for certain careers. Countries like the United States require you to report and in some instances pay taxes even if you no longer reside there but remain a U.S. citizen.  If you are seeking certain government jobs, you may find the position does not allow you to be a dual citizen.

To sum things up, immigrating to another country takes a lot of time and patience. It is a decision that will affect your life for many years to come. Whether the hassle will be worth it is hard to say. It all comes down to how much your long distance relationship means to you. If the love you and your partner share for each other is the most important thing in your lives, then the immigration process, albeit annoying and difficult, will prove to be worth it in the end.

We filed all of our immigration applications independently without the help of a lawyer. We did this both for my initial immigration to the United States as well as for Mike’s immigration to Australia. Generally, the application forms come with a comprehensive booklet of instructions for applying which I highly recommend that you read and re-read thoroughly.

We printed everything out and made checklists of everything we needed for our application. We also made a timeline of which forms were required when, which helped us make sure we didn’t miss anything. If you’re organized and you’re thorough, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to complete the process without legal help.

If the process becomes too overwhelming and not something you feel confident with, consulting with an immigration lawyer may be your best bet. Forgetting to include required evidence or not filling out your application properly may mean it gets denied. This will result in further wait times and potentially mean you lose the money you put down for the application fee, which can be thousands of dollars.

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Meg and Mike Jerrard are the Long Distance Relationship experts, and authors of best selling book ‘The Ultimate How To Guide on Surviving Long Distance Love‘. An American and an Australian who met in Tanzania, Africa, they have since closed the distance and now help others on their LDR journey too.

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