It’s December. My boyfriend and I had just spent two months living together, and we’d agreed that we wanted to close the distance after since the two months had been so successful. And we wanted to do it sooner rather than later.
So when I started researching visas, I was quickly disappointed by the lack of choices. My boyfriend and I wanted to live together and be a normal couple. Sure, we wanted to get married and live happily ever after, but we wanted to do it on our terms, with time spent together in normal couplehood first.
Permanent residency visas/work visas were expensive, and many took a long time to be approved. Others were too short – I didn’t want to spend only 3 months together only to leave again. Personally, I didn’t want to do a fiancée visa, or get married just so we could be together. Maybe it’s because of my divorce, but I didn’t feel it was fair that we had to either be married or live an ocean away, which sometimes feels like the only options a country will give you.
However, that is not the case! There are a few types of temporary visas which can give the time to have your cake and eat it, too. Some examples include long-term visitor visas (many countries have 6-12 month long visitor visas), working holiday visas, even some student visas can give you the time to be with your long-distance love while exploring their culture.
I realized that although these have different requirements I had to meet, I could do them on my own terms and free myself up for a chance to see how we handled life together on a longer term basis before stressing over the incredibly detailed things needed for a fiancée or partner visa.
I chose to come on a working holiday visa to Australia. It gives me a year to live, work, and explore the country, and it wasn’t dependent on anyone else for my entry. It gives us time to live together as a couple, and it means I can apply at the end to be a permanent resident without being married or the pressure of getting married. It gave us a few more hoops to jump through, but these were acceptable to us for a chance to live together for a year and see how things worked.
I realize this doesn’t work the same way for other people in other countries, but my point here is this: if you want to do it a different way, don’t give up. You may have to be willing to make some compromises, but closing the distance without getting married can be done.
Marisol Dunham has been a freelance writer since 2007, and now lives with her once long-distance boyfriend in Australia. An American wandering the bush, she writes about her life and writing ventures on her blog at http://www.madunham.com/. You can find her on Twitter at @maridunham.