I lived in the UK for nearly 5 years (left in 2010) and was not planning to leave, but my renewal visa was denied on a small technicality for which I wasn’t able to rectify. I therefore had to quit my job and leave the UK a year earlier than expected and so did not pay any of my debts (under £6000 at the time). These included bank account overdraft and loan and public utilities (water, electric). I basically had to drop everything and leave! I never thought I would ever go back to Britain and had a rough time re-establishing myself financially back here in the U.S. and so didn’t even think of trying to repay the debts in England. I am now married to a British man. I have applied for a UK settlement visa with my new name (but obviously sent in my old passport and history with my maiden name). Strangely, I have looked at the online register to see if I had any CCJ in my name, and can’t find anything. Though, HSBC has sent me bills to the USA for which I have had to ignore. I left England in July of 2010.
Will I have a problem being granted a visa now? Also, will it be in my best interest to try and pay these debts now that I am in a good financial position? Will the debt collectors be able to find me as I have a new last name and if so, will they try to, and can they collect from my husband even though the debts were incurred before I even knew him?
You have some good questions there and I’ll do my best to address them.
Regarding obtaining a spousal Visa to live in the UK, you should be fine. To my knowledge having debt(s) or unpaid debt is not something the UKBA (which is currently being dismantled) looks into. They do ask about finances in that you and your husband can support yourselves and not immediately claim benefits, but no credit check is done. (at least as of this writing)
Your husband is not responsible for your debts period, so no worries there.
Can you afford to repay the debts? If so then you may wish to set-up a repayment scheme. But be aware by contacting your old creditors it can be like taking a stick to a hornet’s nest in that they can begin the collection process all over again.
You may want to just start with one bill, pay it off, then move on to another one as not to have everyone asking for money all at once.
If you owe still to utilities such as gas, water rates, electric, etc, if the company maintains a database of who owes them, getting new service might be difficult in your name, but since it will be a new address and your name has changed, the odds are in your favour. In addition to having the utilities in both names, which would be OK as well.
I hope this helps.
Jon Emge is an experienced UK debt advisor who has helped thousands and thousands of people in the UK to deal with problem debt. Jon specialises in finding good solutions for problem debt using a variety of UK specific techniques.
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