UK Family Visas: Spouse and Fiancé or Fiancée Visas
We never know what life has in store for us. And we do not choose when and who to fall in love with. If your second half is a British citizen and you want to get married or live together in the United Kingdom, you will need a UK visa.
There are three types of family visas:
- UK Spouse visa
- UK Fiancé or Fiancée visa
- UK Marriage Visitor visa.
It is crucial to choose the right visa type. A mistake can lead to a refusal which means all your efforts in applying and collecting documents have been in vain. You can rectify it in most cases, but it will take time and be at an additional cost.
UK Spouse Visa
A UK Spouse visa is for married and unmarried partners. It allows you to spend up to 33 months in the UK, work or study without any restrictions and get access to healthcare just like any British citizen. After five or more years of staying in the country, including one visa extension, you will be able to apply for a UK indefinite leave to remain (ILR) and citizenship. Same-sex partners are also eligible for a UK Spouse visa under British law.
Requirements to Obtain a UK Spouse Visa
- Your spouse or partner must be a UK citizen or settled person.
- You must pass a CEFR test to level A1 (later, for an Indefinite Leave to Remain you will have to upgrade to level B1).
- Your partner must have an annual income of at least £18,600 and provide accommodation for both of you.
- You must have a clean credit and criminal record.
- You must have a marriage certificate or, for unmarried partners, sufficient evidence to prove that you have been in a genuine relationship for at least two years. The evidence can include proof of holidays paid for by both of you, tenancy agreements signed by both of you, and photos of the two of you from different periods of your relationship. In some cases, you may be required to ask witnesses (your friends or relatives) to submit their statements.
Documents for a UK Spouse Visa
- A completed application
- A marriage certificate
- A passport or another form of ID
- An English test certificate
- Tenancy documents
- Evidence of income and bank statements confirming that you can support yourself without applying for public funds
- Tuberculosis test results (check the requirements).
An application for a UK Spouse visa is usually processed within three months. In exceptional circumstances, it can be accelerated to six weeks.
Before applying for this visa, you need to collect all the documents. That usually takes even longer than the decision, especially if you do everything by yourself. You can make a mistake while filling in the application, forget to include some documents, or miss something because you don’t know the rules. It is not easy to collect all the paperwork since you must submit around ten different statements, certificates, etc. They all have to be submitted together with the application; do not expect the Home Office to request them separately.
Each document must be either in English or translated into English. To avoid visa refusal, we recommend seeking professional help.
UK Fiancé or Fiancée Visa
Some people decide to relocate to the UK before marriage, for example, to have a wedding here. If this is your case, you need to apply for a UK Fiancé or Fiancée visa.
To obtain this visa, you must collect the same documents as for a UK Spouse visa with one exception – a marriage certificate.
Unlike a UK Spouse visa, a UK Fiancé or Fiancée visa has limitations and is valid for only six months. During this time, you must get married and switch to a UK Spouse visa. If you fail to do so, you will have to leave the country.
You will not be able to study or work on a UK Fiancé or Fiancée visa either. Compliance with this rule is strictly monitored.
Requirements to Obtain a UK Fiancé or Fiancée Visa
- You and your fiancé or fiancée must be at least 18 years of age.
- Your fiancé or fiancée is either a UK citizen or a UK-settled person.
- You both are currently single and any previous marriages have been legally terminated.
- You have sufficient income or savings to support yourselves in the UK without applying for government support.
- You have clean criminal and credit records.
- You have passed an A1 level English test.
UK Marriage Visitor Visa
A UK Marriage Visitor visa is a type of visitor visa. It is issued for six months without an extension option. You will not be able to study or work on this visa. The visa is specifically designed to allow one or two partners to come to the UK and have a wedding here. After the marriage is registered, the newlyweds have to leave the UK.
Obtaining a UK family visa
To obtain any UK family visa, you must know British legislation. The Home Office is very thorough in checking the submitted documents against the requirements. If you are lucky, they may request additional documents to clarify certain things. Otherwise, you will just get a refusal and the application fees will not be refunded. To re-apply, you will have to pay again. In the worst-case scenario, you may get a 10-year ban on entry to the UK.
To protect your money and ensure you get your UK visa, we recommend contacting immigration advisors specialising in UK family visas. They are the most difficult visas to get, and different strategies should be applied compared to visitor and work visas. You must not only know all the immigration rules and be able to read them in English but also be aware of pitfalls that can create problems and things that can make your life easier.
When Will I Get a Refusal?
- There is not enough evidence that your relationship is genuine. For example, if you have never met your fiancé or fiancée and speak English poorly, your application will not be approved. The inability to provide photos or the submission of fake and edited ones will also cause your application to be refused.
- You have not proved that you have accommodation in the UK.
- There is a discrepancy between the income you included in your application and shown in provided paperwork.
- You have failed to provide documents on children from previous marriages.
- You have chosen the wrong visa.
- You have submitted too much unnecessary information.
The list is not exhaustive and contains only the most common errors that lead to visa refusal and money and time losses. To avoid any complications, it is better to contact immigration advisors. They will review your case in-depth paying special attention to weak spots, find a way around them and collect the right documents.
What To Do If I Get a Refusal?
It is common for people to apply for a UK visa and collect all the documents themselves and get a refusal. If this happens, never give up. The Home Office has strict procedures and processes, so refusals are not uncommon.
If your application for a UK Spouse or Fiancé or Fiancée visa has been refused, you can do one of the following:
- apply for an administrative review (if the Home Office made a mistake);
- appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal of the Immigration and Asylum Chamber (if there is a violation of human rights or British law);
- re-apply addressing the mistakes you have made.
For a UK Marriage Visitor visa, only the last option is available: to collect a new set of documents and re-apply.
Once the Home Office refuses your application, you have 28 (outside the UK) or 14 days (inside the UK) to lodge an appeal or apply for a review.
If you want to avoid more mistakes and reunite with your family, contact experienced immigration advisors. They will always find a way for you to get the desired family visa. Without professional help, one grave error may lead to a 10-year ban on entering the UK.
How to Achieve Your Goals With Less Effort and Time
There are two ways to obtain a UK family visa. You can do everything by yourself: read British immigration rules, contact the relevant authorities, collect the required documents, and send them to the Home Office. To do this, you must understand what the process involves and what is required of you. Any error can cost you time, money, and sometimes even chances to re-apply since you may find yourself on the country’s blacklist.
The second way is to get professionals to help you apply. An immigration advisor supporting you is a real asset. They will have the relevant expertise and tell you exactly what the Home Office requirements are and how to structure and fill in your application to present your case in the best light.
The whole process can be done remotely with two exceptions. In the very beginning, when you meet your immigration advisors to discuss your case and sign an agreement. And the second time, when you will need to attend an appointment at a UK visa centre to submit documents and biometrics.
Legal immigration assistance has a lot of benefits. Most importantly, it saves you from worrying whether you are doing everything right if you fill in the application yourself. An immigration advisor can ensure that all the documents are in order and no mistakes are made.
You may also benefit from additional services. Immigration advisors can help you find accommodation, find a school for your children, and resolve many other issues related to temporary or permanent relocation. Remember that immigration experts are familiar not only with British law but also with life in the UK.
FAQ about UK Spouse and UK Fiancé or Fiancée visas
How can I prove that my relationships with my spouse or partner are genuine?
To get a UK Family visa, you will have to submit evidence to the Home Office that your relationships with your spouse or partner are genuine. It may include everyday or holiday photos, screenshots of personal chats, and even written statements from friends and relatives.
If you have joint utility bills and letters from government bodies with both of your names and address on them, it would be perfect proof that you and your spouse or partner share a household.
Note that unmarried partners must live together for at least two years before the application.
What are the financial requirements for visa applicants?
To get a UK Family visa, a British spouse or partner must have a minimum annual income of £18,600.
For visa extensions, when both spouses or partners have the right to work, their combined income could be considered.
If you add one child to your application, the required annual income will increase to £22,400. For each additional dependant, it will be further increased by £2,400.
The requirement applies to both married and unmarried couples.
This maintenance requirement applies to the first visa application, any visa extension, and the application for an Indefinite Leave to Remain.
What documents do I need to provide to get married in the UK?
If you plan to get married in the UK, you need the following documents:
- Valid passport.
- Proof of divorce if one of the partners was previously married.
- Proof that you have paid a marriage registration fee (£35 in the UK).
Can I add children to my visa application?
It is a very common practice, but you need to meet several requirements:
- At the time of the first visa application, children must be younger than 18 years old. When you extend your current visa, it is possible to include children who have already turned 18 after the first visa was issued.
- Children must be financially dependent on and live with you.
- If your spouse or partner has a child from the previous marriage(s), you must be able to provide documentary evidence that the parent takes all the responsibility for the child’s life and well-being.