Marrying a UK Citizen for a Visa
With the end of the year fast approaching, we edge closer to Brexit – the UK’s exit from the European Union.
Since the EU referendum back in 2016, there has been a spike in people seeking ways to be “safe” from the repercussions of Brexit: there has been a twenty-five percent increase in Irish passport applications in the last two years.
An option for many migrants living in the UK – from the EU or further afield – may be to marry their partner who is already a British citizen.
Marrying a UK citizen for a visa, Indefinite Leave to Remain or potentially even your own British citizenship is possible, but there are important factors you should be aware of before you do so.
Can You Marry for a Spouse Visa?
It is important to remember that in any circumstance where you apply to enter the UK on the basis that your partner or spouse is here, you will have to prove your relationship is real.
This can be difficult since it requires evidence that you may not have prepared from years in the past.
If you have lived together in another country and have proof of this – for example a joint tenancy agreement – this could be used to support your application.
The reason that proof is required is to prevent illegal activity such as trafficking or arranged marriages.
If you are seeking to enter the UK on the basis of your relationship you will have to apply for entry clearance before coming to the UK.
Entry clearance is the checking procedure that immigration officials undertake to make sure that a person qualifies under immigration rules for UK entry.
If you apply for a spouse or partner visa whilst you are inside the UK, you will have to have leave to remain in the UK on a visa that is valid for at least six months at the time of your application.
Different Types of Visas
There are different requirements when it comes to marriage or spouse visas, depending on where you and your partner are from and currently reside and what your relationship status is.
The amount of time you have been living together or married will be taken into account, as will how long you or they have lived in the UK under different visas.
As well as there being different requirements necessary to obtain a visa based on your relationship, there are also different types of relationship visas.
Only certain people can apply for certain visas, and it is really important that you apply for the right one.
If you attempt to apply for the wrong type of visa it could waste precious time which could be spent with your partner.
It also may mean you cannot apply for the correct visa type for a while.
Spouse Visa UK
The spouse visa requirements include:
- Your sponsor to have a minimum income of £18,600 before tax
- Proof of your English Language ability
- Evidence of adequate accommodation
- Passing the ‘genuine relationship test’
- You must have met each other and be legally married
- Having an intention to live together permanently
- Having enough money to support yourselves and any children without claiming public funds
To be successful in obtaining a spouse visa you will need to show a substantial amount of evidence about your relationship to prove you are eligible.
If you have already joined your partner in the UK using a different visa, you may be able to apply to switch to a spouse visa.
However, you will not be allowed to switch categories if you are in the UK as a visitor for a period of six months or less.
A UK spouse visa allows married partners of UK citizens to immigrate to the UK.
Spousal Visa for Cohabiting Partners
If your partner is from the UK or holds Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK, and you are not yet married then you should still apply for a spouse visa if you intend to stay in the UK for more than six months.
If you intend to stay for less than six months and you are not married then you should apply for your own individual visa, unless you plan to marry in the UK.
If your partner is from the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland but is in the UK, you can apply for an EEA family permit to accompany or join your partner in the UK.
When applying for an EEA family permit or a spouse visa as a cohabiting couple, you’ll have to prove that you and your partner have lived together in a relationship for at least two years.
Becoming a British Citizen by Marriage
If you have lived in the UK for five years or more, it is possible to become a British Citizen by marriage.
It is important to note that is not possible to become a British citizen immediately by marrying a UK resident, but instead there are requirements you must individually meet.
Before you apply you must make sure that you meet the following criteria:
- You are 18 or over
- You demonstrate good character, which means you can’t have a criminal record
- You have been granted Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK or have EEA permanent residence
- You have not have broken any immigration laws, including overstaying a visa
- You are able to speak English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic
- You meet the residential qualifying period of three years
- You are married to a British Citizen
My Partner is a Permanent UK Resident But I’m Not – Can We Get Married in the UK?
Yes – if you are engaged to a permanent UK resident, you can join your partner if you can prove that
- You are intending to marry or enter into a civil partnership together within a “reasonable period”, for example six months, after entering the UK
- You intend to live with your partner permanently once you are married
- You have previously met your partner
- You have somewhere to live
- You can support yourselves and any dependents without having to work or rely on public funds
You also have to apply for fiancé/proposed civil partner visa before travelling to the UK.
If it is decided that you satisfy the above requirements you will be allowed to stay in the UK, but only for an initial six-month period.
During this period you are not allowed to work.
Once you marry, you may apply for further leave to remain in the UK by applying for a spouse visa.
If your application is successful then you’ll have permission to live and work in the UK for two years.
At the end of these two years you can then apply for permanent residency if the two of you are still married.
Marriage Visitor Visa
If You would like to enter into a marriage or civil partnership in the UK but do not wish to stay for longer than six months, then you should apply for a marriage visitor visa.
You must not stay longer than six months if you apply using this visa.
If you decide that you would like to stay in the UK after this six months, you will have to leave the UK and apply for a spouse visa from there.
Our immigration solicitors understand that being separated from a loved one or spouse because of immigration rules can be distressing and taxing on the relationship.
That’s why we’re here to help and guide you through your visa process as smoothly as possible.
If you would like to speak to one of our friendly team, use the contact form or ring 0844 414 0667.
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