Immigration Corner | Getting married in the UK
Dear Mr Bassie,
My boyfriend lives in the United Kingdom and we are planning to get married there. I am now hearing that I will first need to obtain a Marriage Visitor Visa. Is this true?
Persons must apply for a Marriage Visitor Visa if they want to get married or register a civil partnership in the United Kingdom; they want to give notice of a marriage or civil partnership in the United Kingdom; are not planning to stay or settle in the United Kingdom after the marriage or civil partnership; meet the other eligibility requirements.
A person will not need a Marriage Visitor Visa to convert his or her civil partnership into a marriage as he or she can apply for a standard visitor visa. Persons cannot apply if they qualify for British citizenship - including if they can have dual nationality. They must apply for British citizenship instead.
The earliest that a person can apply is three months before the travel date, and he or she should get a decision on the visa within three weeks. This will depend on how long it takes to get a visa in the country from which the application is made. It costs £87 to apply, and a person can use this visa to visit the United Kingdom for up to six months.
With respect to this visa, a person can use it to marry or enter into a civil partnership in the United Kingdom within six months of his or her arrival in any location licensed for this purpose.
A person cannot use this visa to get public funds; bring in family members, that is 'dependents' - they must apply separately; live there for extended periods through frequent visits; extend the visa or switch to another visa; work - except for permitted activities related to your work or business overseas, for example, attending meetings; study for more than 30 days - and studying cannot be the main reason for the visit.
In order to be eligible for a Marriage Visitor Visa, a person must prove that he or she is 18 years of age or over; free to give notice of marriage, to marry or enter into a civil partnership in the United Kingdom within six months of arrival; in a genuine relationship; visiting the United Kingdom for less than six months; leaving the United Kingdom at the end of the visit; able to support himself or herself without working or help from public funds, or that he or she can be supported and housed by relatives or friends; able to meet the cost of the return or onward journey; not in transit to a country outside the United Kingdom, Ireland, Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands.
When a person applies, he or she will need to provide a current passport or other valid travel identification; proof that he or she can support himself or herself during the trip; proof of any future plans for the relationship, for example, documents to show where the couple plans to live; details of where he or she intends to stay and any travel plans - the applicant should not pay for accommodation or travel until he or she gets the visa.
A person can also supply the following to support his or her application: details of the marriage or civil partnership and proof that he or she has paid money for some of its costs; proof that he or she has given notification of marriage to the register office in England and Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland.
If a person has been married before, he or she will need to show proof that he or she is free to marry or enter into a civil partnership again, for example, by producing a decree absolute, or the death certificate of a previous partner.
A person will need to provide a certified translation of any documents that are not in English or Welsh. It should be noted that a person may need to provide additional documents, depending on his or her circumstances.
Also, the applicant must apply online for a Marriage Visitor Visa. He or she will need to have his or her fingerprints and photograph, known as biometric information, taken at a visa application centre as part of the application.
- John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a justice of the peace, a Supreme Court-appointed mediator, a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a chartered arbitrator, and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (UK). Email firstname.lastname@example.org