Choosing where to get married: Fiancé(e) and Spouse Applications
With Christmas and New Year just out of the way and Valentines round the corner, this is the time of the year busiest with engagement announcements. For British residents with their new fiancée overseas, or for individuals from outside of the UK, who want to get married in the UK, it is important to know what your options are to get the right visa.
Every year, thousands of people choose to get married in the UK, but have no intention of staying here. Whether or not one of the couple is British, it is important that anyone planning to get married in the UK does not do so when they have entered the UK as a visitor. This includes those who have a multi-entry visa or those who are non-visa nationals. The Immigration Rules state that someone who enters the UK as a visitor must not intend to marry, form a civil partnership or give notice to marry or form a civil partnership, unless they have entered in a specific category.
The imaginatively titled ‘marriage or civil partnership visit visa’ specifically permits people to both get married or form a civil partnership, as well as giving notice to marry while they are in the UK. When assessing an application in this category, the Entry Clearance Officer must be satisfied that the person does not intend to be party to a sham marriage. This gives UKVI the opportunity to assess the genuineness of any relationship prior to granting someone entry to the UK, which they would not have if a person has entered as a visitor without the endorsement for marriage or civil partnership. Those who normally do not need a visa to enter the UK as a visitor (non-visa nationals) will need to apply in advance if they intend to marry.
Individuals who enter in this category can stay for up to six months, but cannot switch into any other category from within the UK, and must demonstrate that they intend to leave the UK at the end of their stay. Therefore, if you do want to stay in the UK longer, there may be other categories which are more appropriate for your circumstances.
Intending to Settle
If your partner is British or holds Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK, and you want to come to the UK to get married and then stay, the appropriate application is as a Fiancé(e) under Appendix FM.
This application will initially be granted for a period of six months to allow you to get married (and if for any reason you can’t get married in that time, it can be extended) and after you are married you can switch into the Spouse category, without leaving the UK.
Unlike the visitor for marriage category then, you don’t need to demonstrate that you intend to leave the UK at the end of your stay, instead, you need to show that you intend to settle permanently in the UK with your partner. The requirements, therefore, are a little stricter than for those just visiting. There are specified evidential requirements to demonstrate that you meet the financial requirements.
For most people this means demonstrating that your partner in the UK earns at least £18,600, either through salaried employment or self-employment. Alternatively you or your partner can show that you have savings of at least £62,500. The Immigration Rules also allow for earnings from shares, property or pensions, and in some cases you can combine different types of earnings together, in addition to savings to make up any shortfall.
One problem for those getting married in the UK is that they will effectively have to make two immigration applications within a very short space of time, and given that the Home Office fees are now around £1,000 per application, this can add unwanted expense to an already expensive process.
While the requirements for Fiancée and Spouse are very similar, even if there is just a short time between making the two applications, because of the requirement for all evidence to be up to date at the time of the application, particularly the financial documents, there is likely to be a substantial amount of new documents necessary to make the Spouse applications, which can be frustrating for couples who would rather be organising their honeymoon rather than their UK visas.
Avoiding Two Applications
There are two ways to avoid having to make two immigration applications. The first is to get married outside of the UK and then make the application directly into the Spouse category.
Otherwise, for couples who have lived together for 2 years prior to planning to make their application, one option is to enter the UK as an Unmarried Partner. There is no need to get married if you are in this category, but if you do get married you can continue in the same category and do not need to make a new application until your leave expires. This can give couples a bit more flexibility about what they do and when they do it.
Partners of Points Based System Migrants and European Nationals
Neither the European regulations or the Immigration Rules for partners of Points Based System Migrants have specific provisions for Fiancé(e)s. People in this situation will need to consider alternative options.
Contact Our Immigration Barristers
For further advice about the appropriate category for you or assistance with making an application or an appeal, contact our immigration barristers in London on 0203 617 9173 or via our online enquiry form.