Many couples dream of having a wedding in an old castle or exchanging wedding vows to the chimes of Big Ben. Great Britain is one of the best countries in Europe for the most romantic event of your life due to its mild climate, picturesque nature and well-developed social and economic infrastructure. However, for the celebration to take place, you need to obtain the appropriate visa in advance – a Marriage Visitor visa or a Fiancé/Fiancée visa.
An overview of different UK family visas: application process and requirements
Hundreds of people from all over the world come to the UK every year to get married here, and the authorities offer them a way to do it. However, it might be difficult for couples who do not know immigration law to go about visa issues. It is better to contact immigration advisors who can help you get the right visa for marrying in the UK without any delays.
Those who are planning to get married in Great Britain can apply for one of the below-mentioned visas.
A Marriage Visitor visa is a type of UK Standard Visitor Visa. It is issued for up to six months and allows both or only one of the future spouses to come to the United Kingdom and get married here. After marriage, holders of the Marriage Visitor visa must leave the British Isles; this immigration permit does not allow you to live, work or study in the country and is issued only to have a marriage ceremony. If one of the spouses is a British citizen or holds an indefinite leave to remain (ILR), the other spouse must still leave the country and apply for a UK spouse visa at a visa centre in the country of residence.
This visa is issued for 6 months only to couples where one of the partners is a British citizen or permanent resident. In this aspect, it differs from the mentioned Marriage Visitor visa. The UK Fiancé(e) visa can be your first step to obtaining a UK Spouse Visa.
The UK Fiancé(e) visa falls into the category of family visas. However, in terms of the information and documents required as well as the complexities involved in obtaining it, it is no different to a UK Spouse visa (except for the marriage certificate), and applies to situations where one partner is an ILR holder or a UK citizen and the other partner wishes to marry him/her in the UK.
Applicants for a UK Fiancé(e) visa must fulfil many requirements, which will be discussed in greater detail in the following sections of this article. Once married, the non-UK spouse will not have to leave the country; they can apply to the UK immigration authorities for a Spouse visa immediately after the marriage or any time before their Fiancé(e) visa expires.
The Fiancé(e) visa does not grant you the right to study or work in the UK either.
Your application will be approved by the UK immigration authorities provided the following requirements are met:
Let’s look at some of these criteria in more detail.
How can you prove that your relationship with your partner is genuine and consistent? You must provide evidence that your relationship is not fake. Besides, you need to prove that you have met each other personally.
Obviously, each situation is unique and there is no exhaustive list of evidence that needs to be provided to the immigration authorities, but usually, the applicant sends the following alongside the application for a Fiancé(e) visa:
If you and your partner have been together for a long time and you only need a Fiancé(e) visa to officially register your relationship in the UK, you can provide the authorities with the following:
Additional arguments in favour of a strong relationship will be the couple’s intention to marry within 6 months of the applicant’s stay in Great Britain and plans to live together in the UK. Here, the applicant will need to provide the following evidence:
If your documents are in a foreign language, the United Kingdom Visas and Immigration (UKVI) requires a certified English translation.
The Home Office may also require proof that you and your partner are not married to other people. If you or your prospective spouse were married before, you must submit proof that the marriage has been dissolved. In the UK, it would be a civil court order. A divorce granted outside the British Isles can be evidenced by a valid document which is the equivalent of an English decree absolute.
The UKVI are always on the lookout – if a ‘fake relationship’ or other deliberate attempt to mislead the immigration authorities is detected, you might be refused entry to the British Isles for a long period of time.
You should prove that you and your partner can support yourselves financially when you move to the UK. If you have no children to support, it is sufficient to show that your future spouse or civil partner living in the UK earns over £18,600 per annum net.
If you have children, £3,800 per year for the first child and an additional £2,400 for each subsequent child must be added to this amount. Therefore, the minimum income for an applicant with two dependent children should be £24,800.
Sources of income that an applicant for a Fiancé(e) visa and their partner can use to fulfil the minimum income requirement are listed below:
If you and your partner have sufficient personal savings (at least £62,500), you do not need to show evidence of any additional income. In other cases, you will need to calculate how much more you need for your family in addition to the amount of savings. The calculation is straightforward and can be done in two steps:
The couple has £40,000 in savings.
In this example, the applicant should earn £9,000 per annum based on the couple’s savings of £40,000.
Exceptions to financial requirement are possible if the sponsor of the applicant receives income from the following sources:
If the sponsor’s income is received from the above sources, the UK partner may not need to prove that they earn over £18,600 per year. However, even if the sponsor has the right not to report their income, the applicant must still prove their financial state as well as the availability of accommodation in the UK.
Even if you are unable to meet the above-mentioned financial requirement, you may still be able to qualify for the Fiancé(e) visa under the following exceptional conditions:
You should provide information about the place where you will live after you marry your British partner. The accommodation must meet all current UK standards. Your sponsor must show that they can accommodate you, themselves and any dependants moving in with you.
The British Home Office requires the following information:
The difference in the fee between the two mentioned visas is quite significant: a Marriage Visitor visa costs £115 (just like a standard tourist visa), while a UK Fiancé(e) visa costs £1,048 (if applied for in the UK) and £1,846 (if applied for in the country of residence). By the way, applying for a Spouse visa in the UK has the same fee. It is vital to understand that a Fiancé(e) visa to England is much more difficult to obtain than a Marriage Visitor visa. As detailed above, you will need to provide evidence of sufficient income to support yourself financially throughout your stay in the country.
£1,048 if you’re applying from within the UK.
£1,846 if you’re applying from outside the UK. Other expenses include: Immigration Health Surcharge (£624 per year).
The application for the Fiancé(e) visa is usually submitted online on the official government website. The process can be divided into 7 stages:
In exceptional situations, a caseworker may request additional documents or invite you to a telephone interview, so you should prepare your visa application as thoroughly as possible. The better your application is prepared, all details checked and supporting documents verified, the less likely you encounter additional questions and delays.
The next step for you will most likely be an application for a UK Spouse visa which will allow you to stay in the country for an extended period of time.
The application process for both Fiancé(e) and Spouse visa can take 6 months if the applicant is abroad. If the application for a Spouse visa is made in the UK (for example, when a foreign partner entered on a Fiancé(e) visa and now changes their immigration status immediately after the marriage), the Home Office may need only about 8 weeks to make a decision. You can fast-track your application for an additional fee. The super-priority service allows you to receive a decision within 1-2 working days.
If the spouse / civil partner of a British resident is living abroad, they are advised not to book flights to the UK until their visa application is approved.
The processing time for your application may exceed the above-mentioned timelines by weeks or even months; the processing time depends on many factors. Mistakes in the application or supporting documents, additional queries and clarifications, the total volume of applications in progress and other circumstances can all delay the process of obtaining both a UK Fiancé(e) visa and a Spouse visa. If immigration officials request any additional supporting documents from you, the entry clearance process is very likely to take more time.
You can minimise the risk of mistakes and even visa refusal if you seek legal support from our experienced advisors.
It is worth mentioning that the first Spouse visa is valid for 33 months (if obtained outside the UK) or 30 months (if issued in the UK). After that, it can be extended for a further 30 months. Most spouses apply for a permanent residence permit (ILR) which allows them to stay in the UK without any further restrictions.
To ensure that your wedding ceremony in the romantic British countryside remains one of the most memorable experiences in your life, you might want to seek professional support; experienced immigration advisors at Imperial & Legal will be happy to help you.
If you are not planning to live in Great Britain and your only goal is to have a beautiful wedding ceremony in the UK, you need a Marriage Visitor visa. You should collect the following documents and bring them to the British visa centre:
It will take you 1 to 2 weeks to gather the necessary documents and fill in the application form correctly. If you seek advice from an experienced immigration advisor, the preparation will take the minimum amount of time.
It will take no more than 3 weeks for the British authorities to make a decision on your application if you have correctly completed the application, confirmed your identity, provided all the necessary documents and paid the fee. Once your application is approved, you can collect your passport from the visa centre.
Thus, it takes about 4-5 weeks to obtain a short-term Marriage Visitor visa for applicants who have good legal support.
Yes and no. If at the time of applying for your tourist visa, your genuine purpose was to marry in the country, it would mean to the immigration officers that you have not included all the purposes on the application form. This would then be considered a breach of immigration law.
If the decision to get married was made after you had applied for a tourist visa, you could apply to a Registry Office for a marriage ceremony. In this case, the Registry Office must send the request to the immigration authorities and wait for a response within 70 days. If the immigration authorities have not responded or have indicated that they have no objection, the marriage ceremony can take place. If the immigration authorities reject your application, you will have to leave the country.
In any case, if you would like to marry your British partner, contact our immigration specialists so that you do not make any unfortunate mistakes.
Here are all the main British visas for future and current spouses and civil partners:
Under the British immigration law, the following categories can act as your sponsor:
The most common are the first three categories.
We will work with you to find a customised solution for your immigration, second citizenship, business, tax and other needs.
UK Family Visas: Spouse and Fiancé/Fiancée Visas
Visas to the UK
Second passport by investment