Weekly Featured Couple: Grace & Tom

Featured Couple: Grace & Tom

This week, we’re featuring Grace & Tom – a long distance couple who are in the final steps of closing the distance between them. Despite the 4,000+ mile distance between California and the UK, Grace and Tom beat the odds, first marrying and now tackling the UK Spouse visa application. Oh, and did we mention they wrote to (and received a response from) The Queen?

We wish both of them the best of luck with their application. Their story is a great one, growing from friends to partners and now taking the plunge to moving across the world to be together. Read their full story, as told by Grace, below.

How Did You Meet?

Tom and I are both YouTube Vloggers. In 2013 I was searching Instagram for other content creators to collaborate with and I found him! We began messaging each other on Facebook and Skype and found that we had so much in common. No matter what we were going on in our lives, graduating highschool, starting university, getting a driver’s license, interviewing for a new job,  we stayed in contact daily and I felt as if my life would not be complete without him.

Grace & Tom Together

Grace & Tom Together

We sent each other letters and Christmas and birthday presents and we dreamed about one day meeting. 2 years later that day finally came, and Tom came to visit me in California. By the end of his week long trip he became my first ever Valentine and my first official boyfriend.

What Is Your Situation Now?

After a years worth of trips between the UK and the US and conquering an incredible number of hardships, I am very happy to say that this past February Tom and I got married! We are currently going through the spouse visa application process which is how we stumbled upon your awesome blog! Unfortunately I will have to leave the UK when I submit my application but I’m hoping this will be the last time we have to be apart.

What Do You Find Difficult About the Distance?

Saying goodbye at the airport is one of the most gut wrenching experiences I’ve ever had to go through, and I can guarantee it never gets any easier. We get so sad the week leading up to it and even when we are together I have dreams about it and wake up crying. Once you get used to seeing your loved one every day, it is absolutely heart breaking to be taken away from them and have to readjust to 8 hour time differences and continue your relationship through a tiny screen.

Some days I’d get so depressed being away from Tom that I’d have trouble getting to work. My parents were worried about me but they understood what I was going through. My mother is originally from Argentina and my father is from the US so they definitely knew long distance wasn’t easy. I have no idea how they survived without Skype and FaceTime!

What is You Advice for Other Long Distance Couples?

Don’t give up hope! Tom and I have been through so much together. We’ve worked our way through difficult jobs and spent money we didn’t have just so we could be together for a couple weeks at a time. So many discouraging things can happen – a flight price might go up a ridiculous amount, your Skype call won’t connect no matter what piece of furniture you stand on top of, you don’t meet the requirements for a specific visa, etc.

Grace & Tom in London

Grace & Tom in London

But if you’re meant to be together, you’ll find a way. I’d also suggest finding a strong support group who can help you through your toughest moments. I cannot emphasize just how important it is to have friends and family who support your relationship and can cheer you up when you’re feeling hopeless and defeated.

What Are Your Plans for the Future?

Now that we are married, we hope to get a Spouse Visa sorted in the next few months. Fingers crossed it all goes well! Once that is out of the way I look forward to spending the rest of my life with my amazing husband in a beautiful new country. I cannot wait until the day when we can finally stop counting down our time together. No more time limits, no more airport goodbyes, no more staying up until 4am just to say good morning! We will finally have the life together we have always dreamed of.

Bonus – the letter Grace & Tom received  after writing to the Queen about their situation. 

Grace's Letter from the Queen

Grace’s Letter from the Queen

To see all of our featured couples click here, or to submit your own story visit our submissions page.

– Chris & Chelsea

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Chris Martin

CommonTime Head of Marketing. Responsible marketing advocate, avid technophile, part time consultant and full time husband.

  • Thaynara

    Wondering why they wrote to the queen…. I assume they thought it could have an impact during the visa process?

    • Hi Thaynara,

      From Grace’s email, I believe they wrote to the Queen as they felt they had nowhere else to turn during the process – a very common feeling. Though it did not have an impact on the process, it is cool that they received a response.

      All the best,
      Chris

      • Kim

        How long did it took to get back the visa

    • Grace Morgan

      We just wanted to know what our options were :) We wrote to the Queen explaining our situation and we asked to be directed to the right people with the answers we were looking for. Like Chris said, we didn’t really know where or who to turn to at that point and figured hey, why not send a letter to Buckingham Palace!

  • Maiara

    hey there. So I finally married my UK fiance two days ago!!!!!!!. It was just spur of the moment. Now he’s back in the UK. Now I have a couple of questions. Before we were married we were worried that we will have trouble visiting one another in the next couple of weeks. (SO Basically we see each other every month so he’s due to come back in two weeks and I hope we don’t have any problems at customs, I don’t want them to think he’s planning on staying in the US and I’m due to go visit in August for his birthday, so I hope customs doesn’t think I’m trying to stay due to the fact that were married now. (any advice on this ) we plan on starting our visa process in September so I can have more savings in my account. The other concern is when we both apply for the spousal visa during the waiting period will he be able to travel. (IM asking because his father has colon cancer in Jamaica so he’s on stand by to travel because no one knows when he will have to fly to Jamaica. so will he be denied travel to another country besides the US while we wait for out status. I was informed that we both have to give our passports and they hold them until we are given a response. Thanks so much !!!!!!!

    • Hi Maiara,

      You and your husband shouldn’t have any trouble at the border when coming to visit each other – unless you explicitly mention it, the immigration officers will not know that you are married. However, if you are concerned, it is always best to have details of a booked return flight upon entry as proof that you will be leaving the country.

      You may have a little difficulty coming to the UK if you change the name on your passport before you visit – however, again, although the immigration may be skeptical, so long as you have proof you’ll be leaving the country (booked flights and ties back home) you should be okay.

      Your husband, as the sponsor, will be able to travel during the application process without any questions. You won’t be able to, as you need to send your passport along with your documents, but your husband will be fine to travel.

      All the best,
      Chris

    • Hi Maiara,

      You and your husband shouldn’t have any trouble at the border when coming to visit each other – unless you explicitly mention it, the immigration officers will not know that you are married. However, if you are concerned, it is always best to have details of a booked return flight upon entry as proof that you will be leaving the country.

      You may have a little difficulty coming to the UK if you change the name on your passport before you visit – however, again, although the immigration may be skeptical, so long as you have proof you’ll be leaving the country (booked flights and ties back home) you should be okay.

      Your husband, as the sponsor, will be able to travel during the application process without any questions. You won’t be able to, as you need to send your passport along with your documents, but your husband will be fine to travel.

      All the best,
      Chris

  • Awwww! Congratulations and best of luck to you both!

  • Maiara

    hi there… I know this probably has nothing to do with your blog, but I do have a concern in reference to the job market in London, I come from NYC but I notice many people don’t have jobs not sure by choice or because the job market is tough. Will job recruiting agencies be beneficial? Any advice will help.
    Thanks,
    Maiara

    • Hi Maira,

      This is just personal opinion and experience speaking – but I would say the UK job market is relatively tough at the moment. Unfortunately its even more difficult for non-UK citizens without ILR (indefinite leave) as a lot of employers will not want to take on the risk that your visa runs out and you must leave. A recruitment agency might be of help, but my advice would be to focus on one sector in particular and use a niche agency. They’re generally much more attentive to individual candidates and more willing to work with you. If you have a marketable still, definitely make the most of it and approach agencies in that field.

      Hope this helps,
      Chris

  • Maiara

    Hi there, hope all is well… I woke up super nervous today. I’m in the process of gathering all my documents with my husband. But I’ve ran across some horror stories online and im freaking out. From your experience with this forum, do many people get denied coming from the U.S. after reading all the qualifications i don’t see why I wouldn’t qualify but it’s so scary. And now with the Brexit im freaking out more. Not sure if I should just hire an attorney but I could really save the money….. Thanks
    Also I did see your youtube blog, if someone gets denied its best to just start the whole process over instead of the appeal? And just wondering….. I did see that Chelsea responded on a youtube blog that she reviewed her response via mail about 8 days after submitting application. That was pretty fast. Any reason why. Thanks god bless

    • Hi Maiara,

      Yes, people from the US can be denied – there’s no guarantee you’ll be successful no matter what country you apply from. However, in our experience most of the visa refusals we see are on the basis of the financial requirement. I would suggest just looking through your documents carefully, writing out a checklist and submitting to a few forums (such as Expat Forums) to get feedback from others on what you still need.

      In most cases, it can be quicker to re-apply than appeal. If you are denied due to missing documents then you can ask for an administrative review. However, if your appeal goes past this, the waiting list for in-person hearings can be up to a year. So in these cases it is quicker to re-apply than wait for an appeal.

      Chelsea received her response after 8 business days as we paid for the priority service. This service aims to get a response to you within 15 business days. You can read more about it here: http://bit.ly/294wPKk

      All the best,
      Chris