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Can I remain in the UK with new spouse?

Published:Tuesday | June 12, 2012 | 12:00 AM
John S. Bassie

Dear Mr Bassie,

I live in the United Kingdom and recently got married to a British citizen although I do not have my permanent stay. Based on the fact that I am now married to a British citizen, can I remain in England?

Any advice would be appreciated.

- P.H.

Dear P.H.,

You may be able to remain in the United Kingdom as the husband, wife or civil partner of a British citizen, or someone who is settled there. It is worth noting that a person may also be eligible to enter the United Kingdom as the husband, wife or civil partner of a British citizen or someone who is settled there.

However, in either of the above mentioned cases the application must meet all the requirements of the category, or it will be refused and the application fee will not be refunded.

The applicant's husband, wife or civil partner must be currently living and settled in the United Kingdom, or must be planning to return to the United Kingdom with the husband, wife or civil partner to live there permanently, if the applicant is outside the United Kingdom.

As a point of interest, the rules state that if the applicant has more than one husband or wife, then only one of their husbands or wives will be allowed to join the applicant in the United Kingdom in this category.

Status of the marriage

The applicant must show that the marriage is legal or that the civil partnership is registered. Also, that both persons are at least 18 years old on the date when the United Kingdom authorities would give the applicant permission to remain in the United Kingdom or, if applying from abroad, when the applicant would arrive in the United Kingdom.

The applicant would also need to show that the partners intend to live together permanently as husband and wife, or as civil partners. The applicant must also be able to prove that they have met each other already.

It will also be necessary for the applicant to show that the persons can support themselves and any dependants without help from public funds and that he or she will have adequate accommodation where both persons and any dependant can live exclusively and without any need for recourse to public funds.

In addition, the applicant must also meet the authorities' English language requirement, unless the applicant can show that he or she qualifies for an exemption.

Now, with respect to your specific circumstances you have not stated on what basis you were originally allowed into the United Kingdom. However, you may be allowed to switch into the category of husband, wife or civil partner if you are currently in the United Kingdom with permission as a fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner, or as the husband, wife, civil partner or unmarried partner of a relevant points-based system migrant, and if you are still with the same husband, wife or partner.

Switch category

Also, you may be able to switch category if you entered the United Kingdom in a different immigration category, for example, as a student, and you have been given permission to live there for a total of more than six months since your most recent admission to the United Kingdom. For example, you can switch if the authorities gave you a three-month visa and then permission to remain for five months, which would total eight months. However, your current permission must have been given in accordance with the immigration rules, not as an 'exception', that is outside the immigration rules.

However, you should be aware that you will not be allowed to switch category if you have entered or remained in the United Kingdom in breach of the immigration laws, for example, by overstaying your visa; or if your marriage or civil partnership took place after a decision was made to deport or remove you from the United Kingdom; or if you came to the United Kingdom as a visitor with permission to stay for only six months. In such a case you must leave the United Kingdom and apply from your country of residence.

All the best.

John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is 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: