What Visa do I Need To Get Married in the UK?
We are often asked ‘what visa do I need to get married in the UK?’. If you wish to travel to the UK to get married then there are two main immigration routes available: a marriage visit visa or a fiance visa.
The Marriage Visitor visa is designed for individuals over the age of 18 who wish to visit the UK to marry or form a civil partnership, or give notice of a marriage or civil partnership, in the UK. The UK Fiance visa category is for engaged partners of British citizens, persons with indefinite leave to remain in the UK or limited leave to remain under Appendix EU or Appendix ECAA who wish to enter the UK and marry within 6 months of their arrival. This post will explore the differences between these two options.
Requirements for a Marriage Visitor Visa
Marriage visitor visa
In order to qualify for a Marriage Visitor visa you will need to show that:
- You are over 18 years old;
- You are free to give notice of marriage and to marry or enter into a civil partnership in the UK within six months of your arrival
- You are in a genuine relationship;
- You will visit the UK for less than six months and will then leave the UK;
- You have sufficient funds available to you to cover the costs of your visit and your return journey without needing to rely on public funds.
- You must not intend to work in the UK, study for more than 30 days or make the UK your home through frequent visits.
Requirements for a Fiance Visa
In order to qualify for a UK Fiance visa, you will need to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration that:
- Your partner is British, holds indefinite leave to remain, limited leave to remain under Appendix EU or limited leave to remain under Appendix ECAA;
- You are both over the age of 18;
- You have met in person;
- You are both free to marry;
- Your relationship is genuine and you intend to live together permanently in the UK;
- You intend to marry within six months of your arrival in the UK;
- Any previous relationships have broken down permanently;
- You will be adequately maintained in the UK without recourse to public funds;
- There is adequate accommodation for you and any dependents;
- You speak and understand English to the required level.
The Main Differences Between a Marriage Visitor Visa and a Fiance Visa
1. The intention
As a visitor, you must have a genuine intention to visit and therefore must have an intention to leave the UK at the end of the visit.
As a fiance, you must demonstrate that you intend to live permanently with your partner in the UK.
This is an important difference between the two applications as the intention behind each of the applications is completely different. In deciding which application to make, you should first decide whether you intend to visit the UK for a short period or if it is your intention to move to the UK on a long term basis immediately.
Marrying in the UK on a marriage visitor visa does not prevent you from applying to come to the UK as a spouse in future. However, as set out below, you would need to apply for entry clearance as a spouse from outside of the UK. If you intend to apply as a spouse immediately upon returning to your home country following a period as a marriage visitor, this would need to be carefully explained in a marriage visitor visa application.
2. Ability to apply as a spouse from within the UK
To apply from within the UK as a spouse there is an immigration status requirement:
“E-LTRP.2.1. The applicant must not be in the UK-
(a) as a visitor; or
(b) with valid leave granted for a period of 6 months or less, unless that leave is as a fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner, or was granted pending the outcome of family court or divorce proceedings”
Therefore, as a visitor, you cannot apply for leave to remain in the UK as a spouse. It is possible to marry in the UK on a marriage visitor visa, leave the UK and later apply for entry clearance as a spouse.
There is currently a coronavirus policy allowing for some applications to be made from within the UK which would normally need to be made from outside of the UK. However, it is unclear how long this policy will be in place for.
As a fiance, you will be given 6 months leave to enter in order to marry in the UK. Before the expiry of this 6 month period, you should apply for leave to remain in the UK as a spouse. The requirements are similar to those as a fiance, but you must be legally married when you come to apply as a spouse. The requirements are set out here.
Those in the UK with other forms of leave, for example, as a student, can switch into the spouse route from within the UK.
3. Financial Requirement
As a marriage visitor, you will need to demonstrate that you have sufficient funds available to you to cover the costs of your visit and your return journey without needing to rely on public funds.
As a fiance, you would need to demonstrate that you can be adequately maintained and accommodated without needing to rely on public funds. Many of our previous blog posts have outlined the ways in which the financial requirement can be met.
4. The Application Fee
The Home Office application fee for a UK Fiance visa application is currently £1,523. The Home Office application fee to switch into the Spouse category from within the UK following a period spent as a fiance is £1,033. There is also an IHS fee to be paid at the spouse stage, which is currently a fee of £624 per year of your visa.
The application fee for a Marriage Visitor visa is currently £95.00. If you then leave the UK and apply later as a spouse, the Home Office application fee for a UK Spouse visa application submitted outside the UK is currently £1,523.
How to get married in the UK
Please see our previous post on how to get married once you are in the UK.
Contact Our Immigration Barristers
For expert advice and assistance regarding a marriage visit visa application or a family or partner visa application, contact our immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form below.