Dear Mr. Bassie,
I read recently in your column where you had explained how a person is able to visit the United Kingdom (UK) for the purpose of getting married. I also intend to go there to get married, and I am hoping that you can advise me of what documents are needed as a visitor for marriage and what is the process.
This question is most appropriate, particularly following up on the response I gave recently to a somewhat similar previous question.
There are certain documents that a person who intends to travel to the United Kingdom for the purpose of getting married would need to produce.
A person will need to provide as many relevant documents as he or she can to prove that he or she qualifies for entry to the United Kingdom. If the applicant is not able to provide them, the authorities may refuse that person's application.
In providing these documents, the applicant must decide which documents will best support his or her application. The authorities have advised that applicants should consider providing documents that: contain information about the applicant; provide information about his or her finances and employment; evidence the applicant's accommodation and travel details; and provide information about his or her visit to the United Kingdom.
It should be noted that a visitor who intends to go to the United Kingdom for the purpose of getting married must obtain a visa before he or she can go there as a visitor for marriage or civil partnership, even if he or she is not a 'visa national'.
Also, depending on where the applicant lives, he or she may be able to make the application online or by printing out and completing application form VAF1F. In addition, as part of the application, the applicant will need to enroll his or her fingerprints and facial image, this is known as 'biometric information', at a visa application centre.
It should be noted that the length of time taken to process visa applications and how long before the documents are returned to the applicant will vary from country to country.
It is also possible for the applicant, if successful, to extend the stay if he or she goes to the United Kingdom as a visitor for marriage. A person may be allowed to remain in the United Kingdom for a maximum of 6 months. When he or she enters the United Kingdom, the authorities will stamp the duration of that person's permission to stay in his or her passport.
If the applicant is given permission to enter for less than 6 months, and later he or she would like to extend his or her stay to the maximum of 6 months in total, then he or she must apply for an extension. It should be noted that if the authorities grant the applicant an extension to stay in the United Kingdom, he or she must continue to meet the requirements for visitors for marriage or civil partnership.
Also, when the applicant's permission to stay expires, he or she should expect to return home. In addition, it should be noted that the applicant cannot 'switch' into a different immigration category. The person applying for the extension must apply using application form FLR(O). The applicant can complete and submit this application form online, or he or she can print out the form, complete it by hand and submit it by post, by courier or in person. In addition, it is recommended that the applicant reads the FLR(O) guidance notes before he or she completes the application form. The applicant will need to pay a fee when he or she applies, and the authorities will not refund the fee if the authorities refuse the application or if he or she withdraws it.
DETAILS ON APPLICATION FORM
It should be noted that the application form gives details of the documents that must be sent with the form. He or she should send the original documents, not copies. However, there may be exceptional circumstances where the authorities may accept a photocopy that is certified as an accurate copy by the body or authority that issued the original, or by a notary. The applicant must include a letter explaining why he or she is providing a certified copy rather than the original document. Furthermore, the applicant must be in the United Kingdom in order to apply, and he or she must apply at least 4 weeks before his or her permission to stay in the United Kingdom ends.
If the applicant applies by post, he or she must send his or her application to the address given on the form. If the application is straightforward, he or she can apply in person using the authorities' same-day service at one of the public enquiry offices for a premium fee.
The British authorities have stated that any decision will be made by carefully checking each application, immigration history and supporting documents, to see whether the applicant meets the Immigration Rules. If the authorities find that it cannot make an immediate decision, then the applicant may need to be interviewed.
Just for completeness, it should be noted that if the applicant is refused a visa or permission to enter the United Kingdom, the British immigration officer or entry clearance officer will send or give the applicant a notice of refusal. This document will list the reasons for the refusal, and will tell the applicant whether he or she has the right to appeal. The notice will also give the applicant advice on where to send his or her appeal.
All the best.
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