So, life has been really good and cupid has found you a match, you have popped the question and she/he has said yes! Or you have been asked and you said yes! Congratulations!
Now you need to not only plan the wedding but also decide where you will hold the wedding; this article is hopefully going to aid you in making that choice if you are a Non-EU citizen living outside of the UK and are engaged to marry a Brit in the UK.
What this visa is for:
A UK Fiancée Visa is a visa route that is meant to allow a person engaged to marry a Brit in the very near future (within six months) to come and get married in the UK.
The key element of the visa is that it allows the non-EU Spouse to switch to a longer settlement visa (a UK Spouse Visa), from within the UK, once they have married their British partner.
It is important that a Fiancé Visa, which is sometimes called a Marriage Visa, should not be confused with a Marriage Visitor Visa, which costs a fraction of the Fiancée Visa but does not allow such a person to later switch to a Spouse visa once married. With a Marriage Visitor Visa, one would have to leave the country to make a fresh settlement application to come and live in the UK permanently. The Marriage Visitor Visa is really most suitable for couples who live abroad but would like to have an English wedding and then return to their usual country of residence.
As a UK immigration solicitor, I have seen several cases where someone has applied for what they thought was a Fiancée Visa, only to realise their error when their application for a spouse visa was refused later on. One of the key ways to check if it is a Marriage Visitor Visa is the price; it currently costs only £95, while the Fiancée Visa costs £1,523. Unfortunately, this is not foolproof, as I have also heard of one person who actually paid the higher fee for the Fiancée Visa, only for the Home Office to grant them the cheaper Marriage Visitor Visa. The applicant remained understandably unaware until they attempted to apply for a Spouse Visa – so check with your UK Immigration Solicitor that you have not only applied for the right visa but have also been granted a current UK Fiancée Visa.
The requirements for a Fiancée Visa mirror those of a Spouse Visa, simply because the applicant would ultimately be applying for a Spouse Visa after the wedding, thus the government is keen to ensure the couple can meet the requirements of the next visa before allowing the non-EU nationals into the country. The key difference is that, instead of a marriage certificate, the Home Office requires you to show solid plans to wed within six months on being granted the visa e.g. a wedding booking.
You are eligible to apply for a fiancée visa if you:
- Are over the age of 18.
- Are applying from outside the UK.
- Are intending to marry a British citizen within the six month period to be granted.
- Have met your spouse in person.
- Meet the new income threshold set by the Home Office as of 2012; your future spouse needs to earn a salary of £18,600 per annum, or have cash savings worth £62,500. However, other requirements might apply for applicants in receipt of certain benefits, allowances, or pensions. Our Immigration Solicitor can advise you on the ways of meeting the financial requirement. If you have non-British children/dependents you must also meet an additional financial requirement, which varies depending on the number of dependents. Our Immigration Solicitor can also assist you on the level of financial requirement you need to meet to sponsor your child/children.
- Can show in evidence that your future spouse has adequate maintenance in order to support you (and your children if any).
- Can prove that your spouse has adequate accommodation in order to house you/your children.
Who it is for:
As mentioned, this visa is intended for non-EU nationals engaged to marry a British person living, or returning to live, in the UK. It is intended to be a route to settle in the UK permanently after the wedding, as it allows you to switch to a Spouse Visa from within the country.
So if you are engaged to a British citizen and MUST (see my food for thought below) get married in the UK e.g. due to your partner’s elderly family not being able to travel abroad, then this is the visa for you.
Who is not for:
On the other hand, this is not a visa for those who do not intend to settle in the UK permanently after their wedding. For example if a couple (British and Indian) live and work in Dubai and want to hold their wedding in the UK, as the British national has an ill father who cannot travel to Dubai, the Indian should apply for a Marriage Visitor Visa, which would serve the same purpose, cost less and be processed quicker.
Should you apply for a Fiancée Visa or a Spouse Visa?
Of course, where you get married is a very personal choice, and many factors come into play, including the ability of family members to travel, however, one thing that a couple may want to consider is the total cost of using the fiancée visa route.
If a person chooses to get married to their British fiancée/fiancé in the UK, they need to bear in mind that they will effectively be doubling their visa costs, as they will be applying for two visas:
Romeo, a Chilean national, has been dating Juliet, a British national who has been living in Chile for the last year for her gap year, volunteering as an English teacher. They are now engaged and considering their options regarding where to wed. They intend to settle in the UK and are relying on cash savings to meet the income threshold. They have two options:
Option One: Get married in Chili at a local church so that the Chilean family (who may struggle to get UK visitor visas) can attend. Juliet’s small family can take a holiday to Chile, or they could have a small celebration later in the UK for their friends and family there. The couple could thus get married in Chile and apply for a Spouse visa (skipping the Fiancée visa). This would cost:
- £1,523 Spouse Visa application fee,
- £1,200 Immigration Health Surcharge,
- Legal fee if using a UK solicitor.
Total: £1,723 plus Legal fees
The visa would be granted for a period of 30 months, Romeo could work from the first day of arriving in the UK and they can then forget about visas for the next two and half years.
Option Two: Suppose Juliet has an elderly grandmother, who to her must attend the wedding and it is thus very important for the couple to hold the wedding in the UK. They have no option but to apply on the Fiancée Visa route, which would cost:
- £ 1,523 Fiancée Visa application fee from abroad,
- Legal fee if using a UK Immigration solicitor.
- £ 1,033 UK Spouse Visa application fee from within the UK,
- £1,000 Immigration Health Surcharge,
- Legal fee if using UK solicitor.
Total: £3,556 plus legal fees
The Fiancée Visa will be granted for six months, with no right for Romeo to work or use the National Health Service for free until he gets the Spouse Visa. Thus the period between getting to the UK, getting married and then switching to a Spouse Visa, which normally takes about eight weeks to be granted from the date of application, could be 6-8 months, during which you effectively have the same rights and restrictions as a visitor i.e. can’t work, access the NHS, get a UK driving licence or open a bank account.
There are ways of reducing this gap, and you do not have to wait until the Fiancée Visa is about to expire before applying for the Spouse Visa. Also, if you can afford to pay for the Super Priority service (currently £800), it is possible to get the decision within 24 hours. We recommend that anyone coming to the UK speaks to a UK Immigration Lawyer, to ensure that they apply for a Spouse Visa as soon as possible.
Switching to a Spouse Visa after marriage:
So, the main advantage of the Fiancée visa is that the person can then apply to switch to a Spouse Visa from within the UK. This normally involves showing that you still meet the requirements for a settlement visa and that you are now married to your British national partner.
Checking all the paperwork with an Immigration solicitor can save you from making a costly mistake, and they will also help you with gathering the correct documents and assist you with your application form.
The visa would then be granted for a 30 month period, which will finally give you full rights to work, setup a business, use the NHS without charge and also open a bank account in the UK.
The bottom line is that the Fiancée Visa is a fantastic way to ensure that you are not separated from your newly wedded spouse once you marry in the UK, as you would not have to leave the country to switch to a Spouse Visa; it will also ensure that you all your British spouse’s family can attend the wedding.
While it may ultimately cost more in application and legal fees than going down the Spouse visa route after getting married abroad, it may actually work out cheaper if the cost of your UK family travelling to the Applicant’s home country, added to the time off work needed for this, outstrips the financial benefits of having the wedding abroad.
In any case, getting yourself a good UK Solicitor to help you with the visa process means that you can concentrate on more interesting things, like choosing the wedding dress and menu for your guests 😊!
How our Immigration Solicitor can assist you:
Cross Border Legal are UK Immigration solicitors with expertise in Immigration and Human Rights Law.
- Our Immigration Solicitor is able to assist you with your Fiancée fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner Visa application, which can be made from within the country/ abroad.
- Our Immigration Solicitor is able to assist you to challenge a Fiancée fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner UK visa refusal, or to reapply where you have been previously refused.
- Our Immigration Lawyer is willing to help with complex immigration issues relating to your Fiancé visa or spouse visa application.
- We offer a free initial Skype conference or phone where the Immigration Solicitor will discuss your immigration matter further and offer general advice on your options. Please note that this does not include in-depth advice or the reviewing of documents.