Having (just about) survived the visa process to America, I thought I would share a few tips for anyone who is contemplating, or in the middle of, a move abroad. This is not a definitive list but learning from those who have done it all before was invaluable to me, so I hope this helps.
Research First | Always read up about what visa you will need (work, immediate relative, student etc) before you make any decisions about moving abroad. Find out what is involved (paperwork, fees etc) and get into contact with those who have done it already to give you a realistic idea of how to go about your big move.
Plan Ahead | Having done your research, look into how you will cover the financial costs of the visa paperwork and how much a move abroad will cost (plane tickets, shipping belongings, finding a place to live). Once you have a realistic idea, save, save, save!
Check Paperwork | While sending off the relevant visa forms and accompanying evidence, have a list of what you have to include and have someone read over it to check everything is completed and ticked off your list. Even though it may be something you really want to get done, do not rush it, as this is when mistakes are made and you forget to sign something or send a particular piece of evidence.
Be Organised | Make lists of things you need and have everything in a labelled folder. This makes it easier to keep track of everything and makes it easy to locate should an issue arise.
Be Informed | If there is a part of the visa form or whole process that just does not make sense, ask for help. You can find various forums online, but there is usually a helpline number given on the visa forms you can call to get advice.
Be Flexible | Things inevitably get delayed or go a bit awry, but it is not the end of the world (although it can feel like it when it happens). Factor in some extra time to the ideal date you would like to move and try and leave yourself some flexibility just in case it takes longer, or costs more than you had planned.
Await Confirmation | Do not give up a job, if you have one, or finalise your big move until you actually have your visa, as you can get to the interview stage, and still experience delays.
Have you gone through a visa process – what advice would you give? Are there any other tips you could share?