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Immigration Corner: Can I get married in the UK?

Published:Monday | November 23, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Dear Mr. Bassie,

I have recently got a marriage proposal from my boyfriend who lives in the United Kingdom but he would like for us to get married over there. I am wondering if I would need permission to travel there for this purpose. Any advice you provide would be much appreciated.

- P.C.

Dear P.C.

Persons must apply for a Marriage Visitor visa if they want to get married or register a civil partnership in the United Kingdom; or if they want to give notice of a marriage or civil partnership in UK; or if they are not planning to stay or settle in the United Kingdom after their marriage or civil partnership; and if they meet the other eligibility requirements.

Persons will not need a Marriage Visitor Visa to convert their civil partnership into a marriage as those persons are able to apply for a Standard Visitor Visa. However, persons cannot apply if they qualify for British Citizenship and that includes those persons who are eligible to hold dual nationality, those persons must apply for British citizenship instead.

In order to be eligible persons must be 18 years old or over and are free to give notice of marriage, to marry or enter into a civil partnership in the United Kingdom within six months of their arrival. They must also show that they are in a genuine relationship and that they are visiting the United Kingdom for less than six months and that they will be leaving there at the end of their visit.

Persons should also be able to support themselves without working or help from public funds, or show that they can be supported and housed by relatives or friends. The applicants should also be able to meet the cost of their return or onward journey and not be in transit to a country outside the United Kingdom, Ireland, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.

When applying persons will need to provide a current passport or other valid travel identification; one passport-sized colour photograph; proof that they can support themselves during their trip, for example bank statements or payslips for the last six months. They should also try providing proof of any future plans for the relationship, for example documents to show where they, the couple, plan to live. The applicants should also provide details of where they intend to stay and any of their travel plans. Please note that the applicants should not pay for accommodation or travel until they get their visa.

Persons can also supply the other information to support their application such as details of the marriage or civil partnership and proof that they have paid money for some of its costs; proof that they have given notification of marriage to the register office in England and Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.

If applicants have been married before, they will need to show proof that they are free to marry or enter into a civil partnership again, by providing for example a final decree of dissolution of marriage; or a death certificate of a previous partner. In addition, if necessary, persons will need to provide a certified translation of any documents that are not in English or Welsh. It should be noted that applicants may need to provide additional documents depending on their circumstances.

With respect to making the actual application, persons must apply online for the Marriage visa and they will need to have their fingerprints and photographs taken, known as 'biometric information', at a visa application centre as part of their application.

The British authorities have stated that persons can apply for a visa up to 3 months before their date of travel to the United Kingdom and have estimated that applicants should get a decision on their visa within three weeks. Persons can check online the guide processing times to find out how long getting a visa might take in their country or by checking with the visa application centre. It costs PS85 to apply and persons can use this visa to visit the United Kingdom for up to six months.

It should be noted that successful applicants can use this visa to marry or enter into a civil partnership in the United Kingdom within six months of their arrival at any location licensed for this purpose. However, these persons will not have access to get public funds; or to bring in family members, that is 'dependents', they must apply separately.

Also, successful applicants will not be allowed to live in the United Kingdom for extended periods through frequent visits; or extend their visa or switch to another visa; or work, unless persons are given permission to be involved in activities related to their work or business overseas, for example attending meetings; or study for more than 30 days and studying can't be the main reason for their purpose for being there.

Good luck.

n 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).