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coltr

My guide to leaving the UK

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How has the process been with the SLC though? It was quite a great annoyance for us eventually until it required many phone calls and paper trail to sort out.:P


K-1 - AOS & ROC Timeline  - Immigration and the Health Exchange Price of Love in the UK Thinking of Returning to UK?

 

First met: 12/31/04 - Engaged: 9/24/09
Filed I-129F: 10/4/14 - Packet received: 10/7/14
NOA 1 email + ARN assigned: 10/10/14 (hard copy 10/17/14)
Touched on website (fixed?): 12/9/14 - Poked USCIS: 4/1/15
NOA 2 email: 5/4/15 (hard copy 5/11/15)
Sent to NVC: 5/8/15 - NVC received + #'s assigned: 5/15/15 (estimated)
NVC sent: 5/19/15 - London received/ready: 5/26/15
Packet 3: 5/28/15 - Medical: 6/16/15
Poked London 7/1/15 - Packet 4: 7/2/15
Interview: 7/30/15 - Approved!
AP + Issued 8/3/15 - Visa in hand (depot): 8/6/15
POE: 8/27/15

Wedding: 9/30/15

Filed I-485, I-131, I-765: 11/7/15

Packet received: 11/9/15

NOA 1 txt/email: 11/15/15 - NOA 1 hardcopy: 11/19/15

Bio: 12/9/15

EAD + AP approved: 1/25/16 - EAD received: 2/1/16

RFE for USCIS inability to read vax instructions: 5/21/16 (no e-notification & not sent from local office!)

RFE response sent: 6/7/16 - RFE response received 6/9/16

AOS approved/card in production: 6/13/16  

NOA 2 hardcopy + card sent 6/17/16

Green Card received: 6/18/16

USCIS 120 day reminder notice: 2/22/18

Filed I-751: 5/2/18 - Packet received: 5/4/18

NOA 1:  5/29/18 (12 mo) 8/13/18 (18 mo)  - Bio: 6/27/18

Transferred: Potomac Service Center 3/26/19

Approved/New Card Produced status: 4/25/19 - NOA2 hardcopy 4/29/19

10yr Green Card Received: 5/2/19 - Error will need to file I90 >_<

 

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14 minutes ago, yuna628 said:

How has the process been with the SLC though? It was quite a great annoyance for us eventually until it required many phone calls and paper trail to sort out.:P

Surprisingly, all very smooth. I completed a form online. They then calculated a flat rate for the USA and set up a direct debt. They said I can complete an employment form to have the amount re-calculated based on my income too if I like, but I'm fine with paying the flat rate for now. What happened with yours?

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1 hour ago, coltr said:

Surprisingly, all very smooth. I completed a form online. They then calculated a flat rate for the USA and set up a direct debt. They said I can complete an employment form to have the amount re-calculated based on my income too if I like, but I'm fine with paying the flat rate for now. What happened with yours?

They ''forgot'' about the assessment form that we sent them and the flat rate they had calculated.... twice. That resulted in them sending out a nasty letter, stating they wanted a huge amount of money, followed by another angry letter as the first took many weeks to arrive. Many calls and forms later, it's sorted. We have to resend a form with all his paystubs to recalculate every year, though I think they just added it could be done online now. This last assessment though they did not convert it correctly by about £10. We gave up on them by that point. :P


K-1 - AOS & ROC Timeline  - Immigration and the Health Exchange Price of Love in the UK Thinking of Returning to UK?

 

First met: 12/31/04 - Engaged: 9/24/09
Filed I-129F: 10/4/14 - Packet received: 10/7/14
NOA 1 email + ARN assigned: 10/10/14 (hard copy 10/17/14)
Touched on website (fixed?): 12/9/14 - Poked USCIS: 4/1/15
NOA 2 email: 5/4/15 (hard copy 5/11/15)
Sent to NVC: 5/8/15 - NVC received + #'s assigned: 5/15/15 (estimated)
NVC sent: 5/19/15 - London received/ready: 5/26/15
Packet 3: 5/28/15 - Medical: 6/16/15
Poked London 7/1/15 - Packet 4: 7/2/15
Interview: 7/30/15 - Approved!
AP + Issued 8/3/15 - Visa in hand (depot): 8/6/15
POE: 8/27/15

Wedding: 9/30/15

Filed I-485, I-131, I-765: 11/7/15

Packet received: 11/9/15

NOA 1 txt/email: 11/15/15 - NOA 1 hardcopy: 11/19/15

Bio: 12/9/15

EAD + AP approved: 1/25/16 - EAD received: 2/1/16

RFE for USCIS inability to read vax instructions: 5/21/16 (no e-notification & not sent from local office!)

RFE response sent: 6/7/16 - RFE response received 6/9/16

AOS approved/card in production: 6/13/16  

NOA 2 hardcopy + card sent 6/17/16

Green Card received: 6/18/16

USCIS 120 day reminder notice: 2/22/18

Filed I-751: 5/2/18 - Packet received: 5/4/18

NOA 1:  5/29/18 (12 mo) 8/13/18 (18 mo)  - Bio: 6/27/18

Transferred: Potomac Service Center 3/26/19

Approved/New Card Produced status: 4/25/19 - NOA2 hardcopy 4/29/19

10yr Green Card Received: 5/2/19 - Error will need to file I90 >_<

 

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1 hour ago, yuna628 said:

They ''forgot'' about the assessment form that we sent them and the flat rate they had calculated.... twice. That resulted in them sending out a nasty letter, stating they wanted a huge amount of money, followed by another angry letter as the first took many weeks to arrive. Many calls and forms later, it's sorted. We have to resend a form with all his paystubs to recalculate every year, though I think they just added it could be done online now. This last assessment though they did not convert it correctly by about £10. We gave up on them by that point. :P

Ouch, it sounds like a bureaucratic nightmare. I tend to find that we are lightyears ahead in the UK compared to the US when it comes to paperwork, but I guess things do still fall between the cracks. Going physically into places constantly to process paperwork over here and waiting for things to arrive in the post has been a real cultural change I'm having to get used to!

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22 hours ago, coltr said:

I thought I would share some of the finer details of my experience of establishing my life here in the US. These steps may or may not be appropriate for you depending on your circumstances (or location in the US), so your mileage may vary, but you might find some parts of this brain dump helpful! For example, I'm based in Los Angeles, so you will likely not have the same health insurance providers nearby where you live. We're planning to buy a house in the next couple of years, so was keen to build my credit as soon as possible so that we could be joint applicants on the mortgage. This may not be something you care too much about, so you may just want to get on your other half's account and leave it at that.

 

I'm the kind of person who busies myself with admin, paperwork and DIY when I'm not working, hence the huge list! I'm also happy to share guides on how health insurance, banking, credit, employment, taxes, etc. work in the US from the perspective of someone who has been used to the system in the UK if that would be helpful. I had to piece together this information for myself, and put it all into context, so I'm happy to spare you guys the legwork.

 

Before leaving the UK

  1. Way before receiving my visa, I applied for Global Entry. I was able to beep straight into the US through a computer and skip all the customs and immigration lines each time I visited, without talking to anyone or filling out a landing card. It was absolutely amazing and I highly recommend it if you're going to be visiting regularly as a tourist! Note I applied for this before I even met my fiancé, so at the time I was visiting the US regularly for conferences. I'm not sure whether being a K1 applicant would come up during the process and affect anything, so YMMV. I recently asked at an enrollment centre whether this would work with my green card when I receive it, and they said I just need to show up to an enrollment centre and they will add it to my passport for me.
  2. Switched my accounts to Monzo Bank. You need to use your UK address to do this. Really simple 24/7 support through the app.
  3. On a previous visit as a tourist, I walked into Bank of America and opened a checking account with my passport. This apparently helped, as when I applied for my first credit card in the US, they were able to verify my identity using this account (see my point on this later).
  4. Switched my Vodafone plan to one that I can use abroad, then diverted my UK number to a Skype number, so that I can still receive UK calls.
  5. Redirected my mail via Royal Mail to my parents' address. I've also used UK Post Box before who will scan and forward mail for you (they're amazing) in case family isn't an option.
  6. Completed a P85 online to stop paying UK tax.
  7. Registered for a postal vote online through the UK government website.
  8. Informed the Student Loans Company that I'm moving abroad.
  9. Let the council know that I'm leaving.

 

After leaving the UK

  1. Arrived in Los Angeles at LAX. We drove to Vegas at the weekend to get married in a chapel, and they were able to give me the marriage certificate on the same day (Vegas lives up to its name in being very efficient for weddings!). We'll be renewing our vows in a big ceremony with friends and family back in the UK next year.
  2. Visited the Social Security Office with an application form, print-out of my I-94 and passport to apply for a SSN. This took 2 weeks.
  3. Filed for AOS.
  4. Cancelled my UK annual travel insurance - it no longer works now that I'm not coming back.
  5. Called the American Express Global Transfer Team and asked to open an Amex Platinum. They said I failed based on my US credit, but because I had a UK American Express card they were able to approve me on that basis. I passed identity verification based on them being able to find my Bank of America account. This helped me to immediately establish credit in the US, and comes with a load of travel benefits (if you're into that sort of thing). You need to have had an Amex in another country for 3 months to be eligible for this.
  6. Closed my Bank of America account now that I have a social security number, and opened a joint account with Schwab with my husband, who allow free international use, and refund all ATM fees (even the $30 fees in casinos and nightclubs!). Something you have to get used to in the US is that normally if you don't use an ATM belonging to your bank, you'll have to pay fees to withdraw cash.
  7. Transferred my money across from my Monzo account in the UK using TransferWise. I switch my GBP into USD through the TransferWise app, then send it as an ACH payment, rather than using a wire transfer (which costs more).
  8. Switched my iTunes account to the US App Store.
  9. Installed Venmo on my iPhone. Venmo or Zelle is how pretty much everyone splits bills and pays each other for things out here in the US.
  10. Applied for a joint savings account with Ally Bank (for saving towards the deposit on a house). Will also be useful for our eventual green card interview.
  11. Set up a T-Mobile SIM-only contract at Costco. Costco waived all of the activation fees, gave me a $50 voucher and free Netflix. I passed the credit search for this despite not having anything on my credit file. Now I have two forms of proof of address in my name; my bank statement and phone bill. Note that pre-paid contracts do not give you bills, so you won't get proof of address if you decide to go down this route instead. Main reason I chose T-Mobile is that they're one of the few networks out here who have decent plans for use overseas... also free Netflix!
  12. Tried to get on my husband's health insurance, but they wanted to charge over $500 / mo in premiums to do this for a mid-tier plan. To bridge the gap until I'm employed out here, I applied for Kaiser Permanente directly through their website. I got their top plan for about $400 / mo, and have been happy with it.
  13. Set up USPS Informed Delivery on our address, so we can see a scan of any mail coming in before it arrives. Good so that you don't miss any of those important USCIS appointment letters!

This is really helpful, thanks (I’m also moving to LA - whereabouts are you?).

 

My fiancé is currently with Kaiser and really rates them, but is going to switch when I move there, as Kaiser don’t offer the brand of insulin I use.

 

Have you looked into doing your driving test yet, or do you have to wait?

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Awesome! Welcome to the Golden Coast 🙂I'm in Whittier currently,  but I've also lived in Downtown and Palms. All great areas for their own reasons, except Downtown was incredibly noisy at night. Kaiser is a good system, and if you like their system and are willing to jump through their hoops, I think they're great. However, you don't get the flexibility of a PPO, which might be what you are looking for. My husband has United Healthcare in combination with One Medical downtown and that's been a pretty incredible experience. If you have an insurer which is in network with One Medical, it's well worth doing in my opinion (providing you're not miles away from one of their clinics).

 

You have to wait for your EAD here before you can apply for your drivers license, so currently having to wait, but hoping it won't be too much longer now until my EAD is approved.

 

You've missed all of the unusually terrible weather we had in January-March. Everyone accused me of bringing it with me from the UK.

 

How about you? Where are you going to be living?

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11 hours ago, coltr said:

Awesome! Welcome to the Golden Coast 🙂I'm in Whittier currently,  but I've also lived in Downtown and Palms. All great areas for their own reasons, except Downtown was incredibly noisy at night. Kaiser is a good system, and if you like their system and are willing to jump through their hoops, I think they're great. However, you don't get the flexibility of a PPO, which might be what you are looking for. My husband has United Healthcare in combination with One Medical downtown and that's been a pretty incredible experience. If you have an insurer which is in network with One Medical, it's well worth doing in my opinion (providing you're not miles away from one of their clinics).

 

You have to wait for your EAD here before you can apply for your drivers license, so currently having to wait, but hoping it won't be too much longer now until my EAD is approved.

 

You've missed all of the unusually terrible weather we had in January-March. Everyone accused me of bringing it with me from the UK.

 

How about you? Where are you going to be living?

Oh man, I couldn’t imagine living in DTLA! I mean, I love it there, or certainly parts of it (my first date with my now-fiancé was in Little Tokyo), but it’s a bit too crazy for me for living!

 

Yep, my other half is lucky enough to have been born with no health conditions and works out a lot, so is super healthy - so Kaiser really works well for him as the only time he visits them are for sports injuries - and he loves that it’s a one stop shop, you don’t have to go to one office for the doctor, drive somewhere else for blood tests, drive somewhere else for surgery, etc.

 

We’re switching to PPO, you’re right...I’ll definitely look into One Medical though...I have an overactive immune system so have type 1 diabetes, anaemia and hypothyroidism - it’s when you find out the costs of those medicines in the US that you realise how good the NHS is! 😯

 

I thought California was one where you needed EAD (well, actually, I thought you did in all states until I read otherwise recently...that made me dare to hope!) - we originally were planning on buying a car in New York for our drive to LA (I’m emigrating with my dog, who can’t fly, so we’re sailing to NY, then driving), but decided no point buying a car for it to sit there for 6 months, so we’ve hired one for the road trip instead. Bet you can’t wait for the freedom it’ll give you! Are you starting to look for/apply for jobs now or are you waiting until you have your work permit (I don’t working illegally by the way, I’m case it sounded like that! I mean applying so you can interview etc, in preparation of your work permit)?

 

Ha! I was out in March-April, so saw a little bit of it (and got to experience the super bloom!)...but Herschell’s already warned me that El Niño years can last FIVE YEARS 😫😫😫...so who know, I may see it yet (I hope not!!).

 

We’ll be in Valencia, which is way north - the suburbs of LA - but you have the 5, so can get to the valley in 25-30 mins. I used to live in Burbank and loved it there, but Valencia is better for schools and families and stuff, so fits better with our plans (I’m saying this only a little begrudgingly, as it’s true...but I do love and miss the valley!).

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, Zoeeeeeee said:

Are you starting to look for/apply for jobs now or are you waiting until you have your work permit (I don’t working illegally by the way, I’m case it sounded like that! I mean applying so you can interview etc, in preparation of your work permit)?

I'm very fortunate on that front. I was an early hire in a small technology company which grew to become a large technology company, and has expanded to the US. I'm on sabbatical until I get my EAD, whilst still being paid back in the UK and I have their legal team supporting the process. Then I'll just be transferred to their US payroll and office. I could have moved on a work visa to be honest, they would have been fine with it, but we were planning to get married anyway, so decided to go down this route since we didn't really feel any huge urgency. We were both very busy with work at the time, so we've needed the time and space to get our respective houses in order.

 

I've seem some rare stories of people getting their driving license before EAD, but I think it takes a lot to convince the DMV to do this, and they typically won't give you a full driving license. It's called an AB60, and the DMV said that I would likely quality, but that it can throw a spanner in the works when applying for a regular license, and can also take a very long time to process. I decided it wasn't worth it.

 

You're going to be so close to Six Flags! I have a season pass - I love it there.

 

Have you already spent a lot of time out here visiting? I'd been back and forth for a while, staying up to 90 days at a time. Keeping just below 6 months though so I'm not considered a tax resident!

Edited by coltr

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In CA they have a DL for illegals that you also can get. AB60.


“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

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1 hour ago, coltr said:

I'm very fortunate on that front. I was an early hire in a small technology company which grew to become a large technology company, and has expanded to the US. I'm on sabbatical until I get my EAD, whilst still being paid back in the UK and I have their legal team supporting the process. Then I'll just be transferred to their US payroll and office. I could have moved on a work visa to be honest, they would have been fine with it, but we were planning to get married anyway, so decided to go down this route since we didn't really feel any huge urgency. We were both very busy with work at the time, so we've needed the time and space to get our respective houses in order.

 

I've seem some rare stories of people getting their driving license before EAD, but I think it takes a lot to convince the DMV to do this, and they typically won't give you a full driving license. It's called an AB60, and the DMV said that I would likely quality, but that it can throw a spanner in the works when applying for a regular license, and can also take a very long time to process. I decided it wasn't worth it.

You’re probably the luckiest K1 immigrant EVER, in employment terms 😵! What do you do, out of curiosity?

 

I’m 10 minutes from Six Flags and I’m also a season ticket holder! Love it there - but have never been to the water park, so definitely trying it on my next visit... I love Disney too, but it’s a totally different kettle of fish - and it’s very convenient being able to swing by Magic Mountain whenever you like 🙃.

 

I have a friend in LA and a friend in Phoenix, so used to come to the west side every year to visit...and in 2016, I ended a long-term relationship, so decided to take a break from the UK for a bit. The company I work for granted me a seven month career break (unpaid unfortunately) and so I came out to LA in 2017 for six months...me and Herschell met during that time and have visited each other back and forth since then, generally every two months.

 

We’re not seeing each other until August this time though, because he has very little holiday time left at work (he’s taken a lot this year already and has two weeks booked for the cruise and road trip when I emigrate in November)...so this will be the longest time we’ve spent apart...can’t wait for this to be over! Video calls just don’t cut it! 😫

 

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1 hour ago, Zoeeeeeee said:

Illegals?! 😵😵

 

Having just briefly googled AB60, this looks very interesting, thank you! 🙏

California is a Sanctuary State.


“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

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36 minutes ago, Boiler said:

California is a Sanctuary State.

Yeah, I worked it out eventually - thought originally you were referring to @coltr and I, which was why the shocked face 😆😆

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