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The UK Marriage Visa

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Getting married in the UK remains a dream for many. In this blog our expert immigration solicitors  look at how to achieve that with the UK marriage visa and the UK fiancé visa.

UK Online and London Based Immigration Solicitors

If you need help and expert advice with your marriage visa application the immigration law team at OTS Solicitors specialise in all types of family visas including spouse visas, partner visas and fiancé visas. For expert immigration advice call us on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

UK marriage visas

If you want to come to the UK to get married or to enter a civil partnership, and you are subject to UK immigration controls, you will need a UK marriage visa. The UK marriage visa is also referred to as the UK marriage visitor visa. This is distinct from the standard visitor visa that only allows you to come to the UK for tourism or permitted business activities but not for the purposes of marriage.

You can only apply for a UK marriage visitor visa if you are over the age of eighteen at the time of your application. You will need a marriage visitor visa if you are intending to marry or enter a civil partnership or give legal notice of your intention to marry. If you successfully secure a marriage visitor visa then your visa will be endorsed with the name of the person you are planning to get married to or enter into a civil partnership with.

In the UK you need to ‘give notice’ of a planned marriage or civil partnership. This means you and your planned husband, wife or civil partner must sign a statement at a local register office stating that you intend to get married or form a civil partnership. To register you must have lived in the registration district for at least seven days before you can give notice. The notice period is twenty-eight days.

What are the eligibility criteria for a UK marriage visa?

To apply for a UK marriage visitor visa, you need:

  • To be over the age of eighteen.
  • Free to marry or enter a civil partnership within six months of your entry into the UK.
  • To be in a genuine relationship.
  • To only be planning to be in the UK for six months or less and therefore not intending to make the UK your home.
  • To have sufficient money to cover the costs of the UK visit and return journey without use of public funds.

Documents needed for a UK marriage visitor visa application  

It is best to know exactly what documents you need to support your UK marriage visitor visa application. You will need:

  • Your passport or valid travel document.
  • Evidence that your relationship is genuine and of your marriage or civil partnership plans. For example, evidence that you have booked a reception venue.
  • Evidence that you can financially support yourself whilst in the UK. This could involve evidence of savings such as a bank statement.
  • Information about travel arrangements, for example, the length of the planned trip and where you plan to stay whilst in the UK.

Applying for a UK marriage visitor visa

It is best to get the timing of your UK marriage visitor visa right. That’s because you can't make an application for a marriage visitor visa more than three months before you intend to travel to the UK and the marriage visitor visa lasts for six months. You will need to fit in the residence requirement of seven days before giving formal notice plus the twenty-eight-day notice requirement and the wedding and honeymoon within the six months (unless you intend to make more than one trip to the UK).

Immigration solicitors say it normally takes a few weeks to get your marriage visitor visa so it is best to not leave the application until the last minute although you can pay the Home Office more to get a speedier marriage visitor visa decision.

What marriage visa is needed to stay in the UK after marriage?

A UK marriage visitor visa is only suitable for you if you plan to stay in the UK for six months or less. If you want to make the UK your home after your marriage then your best marriage visa option is the fiancé visa.

The UK fiancé visa

The UK fiancé visa is the visa you need if you want to get married or enter a civil partnership in the UK and continue to live in the UK after your marriage or civil partnership.

You can apply for a UK fiancé visa if the person you are engaged to is:

You can't enter the UK on a standard visitor visa and then apply from within the UK for a fiancé visa. The immigration rules say you have to make your application from outside the UK.

What are the eligibility criteria for a UK fiancé visa?

To apply for a UK fiancé visa, you need:

  • To be over the age of eighteen.
  • Your intended spouse or civil partner also needs to be over the age of eighteen and they must fit the eligibility criteria or, in other words, be a British citizen or have indefinite leave to remain or settled status.
  • To have met your partner in person and be in a genuine relationship with them and intend to live together permanently in the UK.
  • To be free to marry or enter a civil partnership. This means your previous relationships and those of your partner must have permanently broken down.
  • To intend to marry within six months of your entry into the UK.
  • To have adequate maintenance in the UK without recourse to public funds and adequate accommodation for you and any dependent family members.
  • To meet the financial requirement which means you and your partner need to meet a minimum salary threshold (see below).
  • To meet the English language requirement.

The financial requirement for the UK fiancé visa

The immigration rules on the financial requirement for the UK fiancé visa state you need to be able to show that your partner has a gross annual income of at least £18,600. If there are children, who are not British citizens or settled or EEA nationals, then you will need an extra £3,800 of annual gross income for the first child plus an extra £2,400 of annual gross income for each additional dependent child who is not British, settled or an EEA national.

If you are in the UK on a fiancé visa you are not permitted to work so you can't assist with the gross annual income for the fiancé visa.

If you don’t think your fiancé will meet the financial requirement it is best to get expert immigration law advice as there are complex immigration rules on how the financial requirement can be met and what evidence you need to provide in support of your fiancé visa application. For example, you may meet the financial requirement if your fiancé is in receipt of certain state benefits or if your fiancé receives a pension or is self-employed or if you can combine their gross income with cash savings of over £16,000 to meet the financial requirement.

After the fiancé visa

After you have secured entry clearance on a fiancé visa your visa will last for six months. You will need to get married before your visa expires. If there is any prospect of you not doing so then you need to apply to extend the visa (you can apply to extend the visa for up to six months if you meet the eligibility criteria) or you need to leave the UK to avoid an adverse immigration record affecting future immigration applications.

If all goes to plan and you get married or enter into your civil partnership then your fiancé visa only lasts six months from the date of the visa, rather than the date of the wedding.

It is best to keep an eye on the date that your fiancé visa will expire as you will need to apply for a spouse visa before the expiry of your existing visa. Once you have secured your spouse visa then when you have met the UK residence requirement you will be in a position to apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

UK Immigration Solicitors

If you need advice about getting married in the UK and your best marriage and family visa options call the immigration teamat OTS Solicitors  for expert immigration law advice that you can trust. Call us on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online. Appointments are available by phone or video call. 

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