UK fiance visa
UK fiance visa or fiancee visa is a visa category allowing a person to come to the UK to marry. People who are planning to marry a British citizen or permanent resident in the UK may apply for a fiance/fiancee visa in order to do this. Unlike most other visas of its kind, there is no requirement that the applicant and the sponsor have lived together before applying.
You must also marry your fiancée or register your civil partnership within 6 months of your arrival. You can then apply to switch into the category of spouse visa or civil partner visa if you intend to stay.
UK finance visa requirements and how the visa application works
To qualify for a fiance visa you must satisfy the following criteria:
- You are both aged 18 or over at the date of the application.
- You have met in person.
- Your relationship is genuine and you both intend to live together permanently.
- Any previous relationship that either of you has had has broken down permanently.
- There will be enough accommodation for you and anyone else who lives with you without relying on public funds, both before and after the marriage or civil partnership.
- You can speak and understand English to the required standard.
- You meet the UK Border Agency’s financial requirement or meet the financial adequacy test.
- A fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner visa will be issued for six months.
You cannot work in the UK during this time. Once you have had your marriage or civil partnership, you will be able to apply to switch into the spouse or civil partner category. You will then need to meet the requirements set out above in relation to spouses and civil partners.
Meeting the financial requirements or the financial adequacy test
You will need to show that your partner in the UK has a gross annual income of at least £18,600. If you are also bringing a child with you (who is not British, an EEA national or otherwise settled in the UK), your spouse or partner’s gross annual income will have to be £22,400. For each additional child, add £2,400 to this total to see how much income your spouse or partner will need to have.
If you are already in the UK and you are working legally, then you can rely on your own gross income as well as your spouse or partner’s income, or instead of theirs. If your income is not enough then you may be able to rely on savings instead of your income or in addition to it. Your savings will have to be at least £16,000. If your spouse or partner is receiving benefits for a disability then you will not be required to show such a high income or level of savings.
If you are already in the UK but you cannot meet all of the requirements set out above – for example, because you do not have enough money – then you may still be able to apply if it would be unreasonable for your child, spouse and/or partner to leave the UK. If you apply on this basis and your application is successful then you will be eligible for indefinite leave to remain after 10 years.
Conditions of the UK fiancee visa and how it works
Successful applicants are granted a 6-month visa in which to come to the UK and get married. They are not allowed to work while on this visa. Applicants must then apply for a marriage visa once married, which if successful, can be held for a total of 60 months, with a renewal at 33 months before applicants become eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).
How long can you stay in the UK on this visa?
A UK fiance visa grants you entry to the UK for a period of six months during which time you are required to marry your fiance in the UK. Once you are married you can apply for a spouse visa from within the UK. The spouse visa enables you to work in the UK and will initially be granted for a period of 30 months.
After spending five years on a spouse visa you are then eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain as long as your marriage is subsisting and you can continue to meet the financial requirements.
Bringing your dependants to the UK
If you and your fiance have children under the age of 18 they are only allowed to enter the UK as your dependants if it can be proven that it would cause serious problems if they are not allowed to enter the UK at the same time. As such, it may be a better option to wait until after you and your fiance are married before making applying for the entry of your dependents.
Meeting the English language requirements for UK fiance visa
All partners, spouses, civil partners and fiancés must be able to prove that they can speak and understand the English language. As part of your application, you will need to provide evidence to show that you have passed an English language test from an approved test provider.
What you need to know about fiancé visas
You are able to apply for leave to remain as a partner once the marriage has taken place. After you are married, you may apply for further leave to remain in the UK beyond the six-month period of the fiancé visa. After 60 months of lawful limited leave as a partner, you are then eligible for indefinite leave to remain. After 12 months of indefinite leave to remain, you are able to apply for naturalisation.
Only after a fiancé, a visa is changed to a marriage visa are you able to start work and hold the same rights as your spouse. Children of the relationship who are under 18 years old are allowed entry to the UK as dependants and can make their application at the same time as the applicant fiancé.
Frequently asked questions on this visa?
I would like to marry my British fiance(e) in the UK, how do I go about doing this? Firstly, you must apply for a fiance visa from overseas. This visa category is specifically designed for British citizens and legal permanent residents who wish to bring their foreign fiancee to the UK. The settlement fiancee visa must not be confused with a marriage visitor visa which is used by non-EEA/EU nationals to come to the UK to marry only with no intention of staying in the UK after the wedding.
How long is the UK fiance visa valid for? The UK fiancee visa is valid for six months from the date of issuance. The marriage must take place in the UK within six months. Settlement fiance visa holders are eligible to switch into the spousal visa (further leave to remain or FLRm) category from inside the UK.
I am currently in the UK on a fiancee visa, but have had to postpone the wedding outside of my six-month time frame, will this cause a problem? Normally, the UK fiancee visa cannot be extended beyond the six-month period unless the couple has a legitimate reason for requesting an extension, such as injury, illness or family emergency. If you have had to postpone your wedding, it is advisable to seek legal assistance so that you do not breach the conditions attached to your visa. Unlawful presence (overstay) can hinder your chances of getting the spousal visa (further leave to remain) from within the UK, even if you are legally married to your sponsor.
Can I work in the UK on my UK fiance visa? Fiance visa holders are not allowed to work in the UK. No exemptions. If you take up employment or work as a self-employed person you will be in breach of your visa conditions.
Do I need to take any tests before applying for the fiance visa? Most applicants must take an English language test to prove their proficiency in the English language before they can apply for the settlement the UK fiancee visa, except for applicants who have a degree which was taught or researched in English and recognised by UK NARIC as meeting or exceeding the recognised standard of a Bachelor’s degree in the UK. Nationals of a majority English speaking country are also exempt from the English language requirement.
I am currently in the UK visiting my fiance, can I apply from here? A fiance visa application can only be made from outside the UK.
How long does the fiance visa process usually take? Visa application processing times vary considerably from country to country and from Consulate to Consulate. On average the fiance visa process can take two to three months. Some countries, such as Japan, Brazil, Taiwan, Canada and the US have an expedited service. Premium applications, where available, are normally processed within 10 to 15 days.
We have submitted our application to the UK Border Agency (UKBA) but I need my passport returned urgently, will this pose a problem? Should you wish to have your passport returned, your application will be deemed withdrawn.
The relationship between my fiancee and I has terminated, what happens now? If your relationship has terminated the UKBA can be advised of the situation. If you don’t get married within six months of the fiance visa validity period, you will have to leave the UK.
I was in the UK on the fiance visa, but our relationship did not work out at the time and I went back to my home country. My former fiance and I have been in touch since then and now want to re-apply for the fiancee visa. What are my chances? The second UK fiance visa will be more difficult to obtain. You and your fiance must be prepared to explain to the examining UK Border Agency officials why your relationship did not work out the first time and why you believe it will lead to a marriage the second time. Your application may be refused, if the UKBA examiners suspect that you are using the fiance visa as a way to spend time in the UK, which would normally require a general visitor visa, with no intention to marry and settle in the UK together in the foreseeable future.
I have a valid visitor visa for the UK. Can I enter the UK as a visitor and marry my fiance? The visitor visa is not designed for this purpose. If you plan on getting married in the UK within six months, you must apply for a suitable settlement fiancee visa or visit for a marriage visa. Hypothetically, even if you were able to get married in the UK on a visitor visa, you would be required to leave the country to apply for a spousal visa to settle in the UK with your partner as visitor visa holders are not eligible to switch into the spousal visa (further leave to remain or FLR (M) category from inside the UK.
Will I be allowed to travel outside the UK after the marriage? The initial UK fiance visa is valid for multiple entries up until the point of marriage. You must not leave the country after the wedding as the minute you marry your loved one in the UK, your fiance visa technically becomes invalid for reentry. You must apply for the spousal visa (further leave to remain or FLRm) to extend your permission to stay in the UK. You will initially be granted a provisional or “conditional” visa with an option to apply for residence (indefinite leave to remain or ILR) in approximately five years.
Contact ICS Legal on 0207 237 3388 to get some initial legal advice or simply complete our visa assessment form, by clicking here.