UK Immigration Law
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Thank you very much for the insightful answers.
Dealing with so many gray areas has me feeling like I'm playing with a Rubick's cube, however. Everything I need is there...but how and when to line it all up properly is the challenge.
One thing that would help a lot is if you could tell me everything you can about the "premium" application process you mentioned. I suspect that the best thing for us will be to go ahead and go to the UK and get our house set up (with my wife on a visitor visa), then for her to go to the US and apply for the settlement visa from there as soon as the timing on the pension and the various types of savings is clearly okay. If that's the case, a short trip would definitely be better than her having to wait over there for up to three months.
FYI, our lease is up on the house we are living in here in Japan at the end of May, and some friends of ours in England have kindly offered to let us rent a property they own for a very favorable price - if we can move in by about that time...so it could be very difficult to delay the initial move much beyond then. (Did I mention that we have four cats and three dogs who will be joining us? )
Thanks again for the advice.
Do you know for certain if the premium service is available in Japan or not? Some of Japan's immigration related treaties with the UK are different from those of the US, so we can't definitely say that the service is unavailable here because it isn't offered in the US.
Assuming that it isn't available in either the US or Japan, am I correct that, since my wife cannot change from a visitor visa to a (spousal) settlement one within the UK, there is no way she can make use of this service? In this case, would the courier service you are referring to be simply for the return of documents under a regular application?
On a related point, our feeling is that it would probably be best to wait and make an application only after my pension has been actually paid for at least one month, and the additional savings required are in a form that will not be questioned, even if it means that my wife will have to go back to the US (or Japan) for a period of time, rather than apply with some points still in a gray area, and risk being rejected and having to go through an appeal process. Please let me know your thoughts on this.
Thanks again for all the advice.
Thanks. I'm looking forward to it.