Immigration Corner | How to obtain a marriage visitor visa
Dear Mr Bassie,
My spouse-to-be would like us to get married in the United Kingdom although I do not reside there. I am told that I would need to get a Marriage Visitor visa. Please advise if this is so.
Persons must apply for a Marriage Visitor visa if they want to get married or register a civil partnership in the United Kingdom (UK); give notice of a marriage or civil partnership in UK; or if he/she is not planning to stay or settle in the UK after the marriage or civil partnership. Those persons will also need to meet the other eligibility requirements.
Persons should be aware that they do not need a Marriage Visitor visa to convert their civil partnership into a marriage – they can apply for a Standard Visitor visa.
Persons should also note that they do not need a Marriage Visitor visa if one of the following is true:
• They have settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme
• They have applied to the EU Settlement Scheme and have not got a decision yet.
• He/she is an Irish citizen.
It should also be noted that persons cannot apply if they qualify for British citizenship - including if they can have dual nationality. Those persons must apply for British citizenship instead.
WHAT PERSONS ARE PERMITTED TO DO
Persons are permitted to marry or enter into a civil partnership in the UK within six months of arriving. However, they must use a venue licensed for this purpose. Persons may also pass through the UK in transit on the way to another country.
With this visa, persons are not permitted to get public funds (benefits) or bring in family members (dependents) as they must apply separately. Persons cannot live in the UK for extended periods through frequent visits or extend the visa or switch to another visa. Those persons are not permitted to work, except for permitted activities related to their work or business overseas such as attending meetings, and they cannot study.
For further clarity, persons are advised to read detailed guidance about what persons can and cannot do with a Marriage Visitor visa. This information can be found online. Please be aware that persons are able to use this visa to visit the UK for up to six months.
WHEN TO APPLY AND HOW LONG IT TAKES
Persons who need a visa must apply online before they go to the UK. As part of the application process, they will need to book an appointment at a visa application centre to prove their identity and provide relevant documents.
Applicants should allow time to attend the appointment as the visa application centre could be in another country. Please note that the visa application centre may keep the applicant’s passport and documents while processing the application. It should also be noted that the earliest persons can apply is three months before travel.
After the applicant has applied online, proved their identity, and provided their documents, they will usually get a decision on their visa within three weeks. Please note that it costs £100 to apply.
With regard to eligibility, persons must prove that:
• He/she is 18 years old or over.
• He/she is free to give notice of marriage, to marry or enter into a civil partnership in the UK within six months of arrival.
• He/she is in a genuine relationship.
• He/she is visiting the UK for less than sixmonths.
• He/she will leave the UK at the end of the visit.
• The applicant is not planning to live in the UK for extended periods through frequent or successive visits or make the UK their main home.
• The applicant should be able to support himself or herself during the trip (or have funding from someone else to support them)
• They are able to pay for their return or onward journey (or have funding from someone else to pay for the journey)
• He/she should have proof of any other activities he or she wants to do in the UK, as allowed by the Visitor Rules.
I hope this helps.
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, the global president of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (UK). Email: firstname.lastname@example.org