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Top 10 FAQ about UK Family Visas: How to Obtain a UK Fiancée/Fiancé Visa, Spouse Visa or Marriage Visitor Visa

A wedding in the United Kingdom is where romance and traditions come together. It is a dream come true for many people, a symbol of a solid family future, plenty of unforgettable memories and impeccable service. That’s why many young couples want to get married in the UK, with its breath-taking landscapes and Big Ben chimes.

However, even the most wonderful wedding planning can be tarnished by unpoetic mundane problems. But how to avoid them, preserve the festive mood and save money? Imperial & Legal immigration advisors share their insight into some legal issues that most couples face when they decide to get married in the UK.

All You Need to Know About the UK Family Visas

An overview of different UK family visas: application process and requirements

1. How to Choose Which Visa to Apply For to Get Married in the UK?

If you want to get married in the United Kingdom, British immigration rules offer several options for you. In the heat of wedding preparations with a never-ending to-do list (what ring to choose, what to include on the menu), it is easy to forget about a visa. But this could cost you everything. If you fail to apply for a required visa and/or make a mistake, your application could be refused, which will impact your whole wedding and you will lose money. 

Currently, there are two visa categories for those who wish to get married in Great Britain: UK Marriage Visitor visa and UK Fiancée/ Fiancé visa. Each has different requirements, but both have one thing in common – you must be of age, able, and free from other relationships.

If you are already married or have a civil partner, you can apply for a UK Spouse visa to reunite with your family in the UK. Though UK Family visas have some common requirements, they have nuances of their own which we will talk about below.

2. What Documents Do I Need to Arrange a Wedding in the UK?

Marrying a UK national is not only a happy event, but also an opportunity to relocate to the UK where living standards are high. Registering a marriage in the UK could be difficult but not impossible.

To get married in the UK, you need to give notice to your local civil register office. Both partners must be present. If a foreign fiancée or fiancé already has the required visa, for example, a UK Fiancée/Fiancé visa or a UK Marriage Visitor visa, marriage can be registered in 28 days. You can still give notice without a visa, but the register office will notify the Home Office, and you might need to wait for up to 70 days. Marriage will be registered only if the Home Office approves it or if it fails to provide an answer in 70 days. 

To obtain a UK Marriage Visitor visa or UK Fiancée/Fiancé visa without any problems, you must carefully review the list of required documents. You need to submit the following documents, with copies, and translation into English, if required:

  • Valid passport and a copy of the photo page
  • Birth certificate
  • Documents confirming that any previous marriage, if any, is dissolved.

3. How Long Are the UK Family Visas (UK Marriage Visitor visa, UK Fiancée/Fiancé visa and UK Spouse Visa) Valid For?

UK Marriage Visitor visa and UK Fiancée/ Fiancé visa allow you to come to the UK only to get married. They are short-term and issued for half a year. During this time, you must get married and apply for a UK Spouse visa that you can get in three months. A UK Marriage Visitor visa cannot be extended while a UK Fiancée/Fiancé visa can be extended only in exceptional circumstances. 

A UK Spouse visa is a long-term visa that is issued for two years and six months if you apply for it in the UK and for two years and nine months if you apply for it outside the UK. It can be extended.

4. What Is the UK Marriage Visa For?

Every year, thousands of people come to the UK to get married without the intention to stay in the country afterwards. For them, the main difference between a UK Standard Visitor visa and a UK Marriage Visitor visa is that the latter provides an opportunity to register a marriage in the UK. According to UK immigration rules, foreign nationals coming to the UK as standard visitors cannot get married here or form a civil partnership. It is only possible with a UK Marriage Visitor visa or a UK Fiancée/Fiancé visa.

A UK Marriage Visitor visa is a special visa category designed for people who come to the UK only to get married. A UK Marriage Visitor visa does not give the right to live, work or study in the UK. Once a marriage is registered, a non-UK spouse must leave the country. To live in the UK, they must apply for a long-term UK Spouse visa. If both spouses are non-British citizens, they will have to leave the country after the wedding. A UK wedding does not make you eligible for an Indefinite Leave to Remain or British citizenship. 

A UK Marriage Visitor visa has the following advantages:

  • Smaller application fee – same as for a UK Standard Visitor visa.
  • No need to confirm that your income is enough to support yourself in the UK, which would normally be a rather high figure. For a UK Marriage Visitor visa, all you need is to submit a bank statement that confirms that you can support yourself in the UK for six months without applying for public funds.
  • Great opportunity to celebrate a wedding in the UK – an ideal solution for those who go to the UK just to get married and leave the country after.

5. What Is a UK Fiancée/Fiancé Visa and How Different Is It From the UK Marriage Visitor Visa?

If your future spouse has a British passport or Indefinite Leave to Remain and you want to get married in the UK and then stay here, you need to apply for a UK Fiancée/Fiancé visa. You will have six months after you get a visa to get married and apply for a UK Spouse visa. You will be able to do this inside the UK.

Unlike the UK Marriage Visitor visa, you do not have to prove you will leave the country after your visa expires. Instead, you must prove that you plan to live with your spouse in the UK. That’s why the requirements for this visa category are stricter: 

  • Confirmation that you can support yourself without recourse to public funds – your British partner must have an annual income of at least £18,600 before tax or your joint savings must amount to at least £62,500.
  • Owned or rented accommodation that complies with the requirements.
  • Evidence that your relationship is not fake (chat history, photos, witness statements from friends and family, bills you pay together, etc.).
  • Confirmation of at least A1 level of English.

All the documents and statements (especially bank statements) must be recent on the date of application for a UK Fiancée/Fiancé visa. 

6. Who Can Apply For a UK Spouse Visa and What Are the Advantages?

A UK Spouse visa allows you to enter the UK to reunite with your partner if you are already married (even if the marriage is registered outside the UK) and your spouse has British citizenship or an Indefinite Leave to Remain.

To apply for a UK Spouse visa, you need to meet several financial requirements. The UK government needs to be sure that your UK spouse can support you without applying for public funds. For this, the following must be submitted:

  • Your British spouse must have the minimum annual income of £18,600. If there are minor children in the family, that adds £3,800 to the above figure for one non-British child and £2,400 for each additional child.
  • Your British spouse must have an accommodation of the appropriate size that they own or rent.
  • You must prove that your marriage is not a fraud and you have seriously and genuinely decided to get married (photos, trips together, bills, messages, and emails/letters) and that you plan to live in the UK.
  • You must confirm that your knowledge of English is at least A1.

The documents that you need to submit to get a UK Spouse visa are the same as for a UK Fiancée/Fiancé visa with one exception. To get a UK Fiancée/Fiancé visa, you need a proof that you plan to get married in the UK, while to obtain a UK Spouse visa, you need a marriage certificate.

A UK Spouse visa offers far more opportunities. For example, it allows to study and work in the UK and later obtain an Indefinite Leave to Remain and British citizenship.

Visa issues can spoil your mood because you would rather think of your honeymoon, but it is worth all the efforts. If you want to avoid a headache of a visa application and processing, you can get in touch with regulated immigration advisors who will help you get a UK Fiancée/Fiancé or a UK Spouse visa hassle-free.

7. How Much Does It Cost to Get a Visa For a Wedding in the UK?

The costs of a UK Marriage Visitor visa and a UK Fiancée/Fiancé visa differ significantly. Application fee for a UK Marriage Visitor visa is practically the same as for a UK Standard Visitor visa and amounts to £95. A UK Fiancée/Fiancé visa costs much more and depend on the place where you apply for the visa – £1,033 if you apply for the visa in the UK and £1,523 if you apply for it outside the UK. It would cost you the same to apply for a UK Spouse visa. 

8. Can My Partner and I Apply For a UK Family Visa if We Are Not Married but Live Together?

If you are not married and do not plan to get married, but live together, you can still apply for a UK Family visa that is called a UK Unmarried Partner visa. For your application to be approved, you must prove to the Home Office that your relationship is not fake. You must submit evidence that you have lived together in a genuine partnership for at least two years at the same address.

9. What Happens If We Do Not Get Married within Six Months Before the Visa Expires?

If you do not get married before your visa expires, you must leave the UK and go through the same process again. In exceptional circumstances, you can apply to extend your UK Fiancée/Fiancé visa. To do this, a couple must give a solid reason why they failed to get married and prove that they certainly will in the next six months. There is no definition of “solid reason” in British immigration rules. The Home Office considers each case separately.

No matter what prevented you from getting married, while applying for visa extension, you must submit the same package of documents and prove that you meet the due diligence criteria that include genuineness of your relationship, sufficient financial funds and appropriate accommodation. Though you have already been issued a visa once, it does not guarantee that it will be extended. The Home Office will process your application with the same accuracy. It is better to avoid such situations and plan your wedding beforehand to avoid any delays.

10. What To Do If We Already Have a UK Standard Visitor Visa and Decide to Get Married in the UK?

If you decide to get married while staying in the UK on a UK Standard Visitor visa, the Home Office may think that you have entered the country illegally since you have not stated your true intentions. As a result, you will have problems with obtaining UK visas in future.

If you come to the UK on a UK Standard Visitor visa, you can stay in the country for a certain period of time, but you cannot switch to a UK Fiancée/Fiancé visa or UK Spouse visa while staying here. If you want to get married in the UK, you need to return to your home country and apply for a different visa. It is better to discuss with your fiancée or fiancé in advance where you want to get married and where you want to live after the wedding to avoid mistakes and apply for the required visa.  

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