Overview of a UK Marriage Visa
A UK Marriage visa is officially known as a UK Marriage Visitor visa. It’s a particular type of visa that allows the holder (or holders) to legally get married or register a civil partnership within the United Kingdom. An example of who this would apply to is two American citizens who plan to have their dream wedding in a Scottish castle. As neither holds British citizenship, residency, or permanent immigration status in the UK, they would need to obtain a UK Marriage visa to marry in the UK lawfully. The visa allows you to visit the UK for up to 6 months.
If you intend to marry a British citizen or someone with settled status in the UK, a UK Marriage visa might not be appropriate for you. Instead, you might need to apply for a Fiancé or Spouse visa. See the section titled ‘Is a UK Marriage Visa the Right Visa for Me?’ for further details.
UK Marriage Visa Eligibility Criteria
The eligibility criteria for a UK Marriage visa is relatively straightforward. Each applicant needs to substantiate the following:
- You are 18 years of age or older.
- You are free and able to provide a notice of marriage, get married, or form a civil partnership in the UK within six months of your arrival.
- You are in a genuine relationship.
- Your visit to the UK is for less than six months.
- You intend to depart the UK upon the conclusion of your visit.
- You do not intend to establish residency in the UK through frequent or successive visits, nor make the UK your primary residence.
- You possess the means to support yourself during your trip financially, or you have financial backing from another source.
- You can cover the expenses for your return or onward journey or have financial support from another party to cover these costs.
- You can furnish evidence of any additional activities you wish to undertake in the UK under the Visitor Rules.
Providing the above criteria can be met, you should be successful in any application for a UK Marriage visa.
What Can I and Can’t I Do on a UK Marriage Visa?
There are some very clear criteria around what you can and can’t do under a UK Marriage visa. It’s essential to be aware of these criteria and not break them, as this would breach the UK’s immigration rules. Breaching the UK’s immigration rules can lead to a ban and difficulty in obtaining visas in the future.
Under a UK Marriage Visor visa, you have the option to:
- Engage in marriage or establish a civil partnership in the UK within six months of arrival, provided you use a licenced venue.
- Pass through the UK while in transit on your journey to another country.
However, you are not allowed to:
- Access public funds or benefits.
- Bring in family members (called ‘dependants’); they must submit separate applications.
- Reside in the UK for prolonged periods through frequent visits.
- Extend your visa or switch to a different type of visa.
- Engage in work, except for activities directly related to your work or business overseas, such as attending meetings.
- Pursue studies.
Is a UK Marriage Visa the Right Visa for Me?
A UK Marriage visa is likely to be the right option for you if you plan to:
- Marry or register a civil partnership in the UK.
- Submit a marriage or civil partnership notice in the UK.
- Leave the UK following your marriage or civil partnership (you have no intentions of remaining or establishing residence in the UK).
The UK Marriage Visitor visa won’t be the right option for you if you are:
- Marrying a British citizen or someone with settled status in the UK
- Intend to reside here after your marriage or civil partnership
If you intend to reside in the UK after your marriage or civil partnership ceremony, consider applying for a Fiancé or Spouse visa. A Fiancé visa allows you to come to the UK, marry a British citizen or someone with settled status, and then apply for a Spouse visa. On the other hand, a Spouse visa can only be issued once you are legally married or have entered into a Civil Partnership. A Spouse visa allows you to hold long-term residence in the UK, and live with your partner. A Spouse visa is also a route towards Indefinite Leave to Remain.
What Documents Are Required for a UK Marriage Visa?
You must provide a passport or travel document as part of your application. Your passport must remain valid throughout your entire stay in the UK and have an available page for visa issuance.
To support your application, you should also present the following:
- Particulars related to your marriage or civil partnership, including evidence of payments made towards a venue and other arrangements.
- Evidence that demonstrates your intent to marry in the UK, such as a booking confirmation or correspondence between you and the proposed venue.
- Proof of funds to support yourself during your time in the UK
If you have had a prior marriage or civil partnership, you must substantiate your eligibility to marry or enter a civil partnership again. Documents to prove this may include:
- A decree absolute.
- A death certificate for a previous partner.
It’s crucial to provide the correct documents for your visa application to remove any ambiguity or uncertainty the caseworker may have. Addressing any issues head-on is a far better approach than hoping they go unnoticed, as the checks conducted by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) are comprehensive.
UK Marriage Visitor Visa Other Important Information
There are a few other important details you need to know about the UK Marriage Visitor visa:
- The application fee for the visa is £115
- You can apply for the visa up to 3 months before you intend to travel
- A decision on your application is usually made within three weeks of submitting your application and biometric data
- The visa is valid for six months
If you still have questions or want expert advice on the best option for your circumstances, please get in touch. We offer all clients a free initial consultation with a qualified and experienced immigration consultant.