Marriage Visitor Visa – What is it and when should you get one?

Thomas Chase Immigration - UK Spouse Visa

I received a call from an applicant who wished to travel to the UK to marry her partner currently based in this country and was considering applying for a marriage visitor visa.

Mary had searched (and searched) the UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) website and thought she had everything pretty much sussed. Her partner, Jonathan, also searched the internet and they were both agreed on what they both needed to do and began completing the online application form.

Until, that is, Mary called the Consulate in her home country with a query about processing times and received differing information about the application type and process, leaving her and Jonathan somewhat confused, frustrated and a understandably, a little fed up.

In defence of staff at the Consulate, it can be difficult to guide applicants through the correct process without having a clearer understanding of the needs of the person.

So back to Mary who sought information about Marriage Visitor visas.

Marriage Visitor visas are just that. They allow the overseas applicant from outside of the European Union (EU) to travel to get married or register a civil partnership in the UK.

Criteria

To qualify for a Marriage Visitor visa, the applicant must meet the following criteria:

  • Be 18 or over
  • Free to give notice of marriage, to marry or enter into a civil partnership in the UK within 6 months of their arrival
  • Be in a genuine relationship
  • Intend to visit the UK for less than 6 months
  • Intend to leave the UK at the end of their visit
  • Be in a position to support themselves without working in the UK or requiring public funds to do so, and that they can be supported and housed by relatives or friends
  • Must be able to meet the cost of the return or onward journey to their home country or country or residence
  • Not be in transit to a country outside the UK, Ireland, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands

Documents

Such applications require numerous original documents to be submitted. They include:

  • An original current passport or other valid travel identification
  • Proof that the applicant can support themselves during the entirety of their trip. Such evidence include:
    • Bank statements; or
    • Pay slips for the last 6 months
  • Proof of the applicant’s future plans for the relationship. This may include documents to show where they intend to live
  • Details of where the applicant intends to stay and their travel plans
  • Evidence that arrangements have been or are being made to marry or form a civil partnership or give notice of the intention to do so this during the visit. This may be a letter from a registry office

Additional documents

Depending on the applicant’s circumstances, it may be necessary to provide further documents to meet the eligibility requirements. For instance, if the applicant had previously been married, submitting the following may be necessary:

  • Decree absolute
  • Death certificate of a previous partner

Cost

The visa costs £95. There may be additional nominal fees for extra services payable to the Visa Application Centre.

Timing

Applicants may apply for a Marriage Visitor visa and submit their application to UKVI 3 months before the intended date of travel to the UK.

Processing times

Applications can take approximately 3 weeks to be concluded. However, processing times will vary depending on the Consulate location and individual circumstances. It is therefore strongly recommended that all required documents be submitted with the application to avoid delay at best.

Length of the visa

Marriage Visitor visas are issued for up to 6 months only. During that time, the applicant will be expected to marry or enter into a civil partnership in the UK. At the end of the visa, the visa holder must leave the UK and return to their country of origin or country of residence.

Is the Marriage Visitor visa the right visa?

The Marriage Visitor visa does not allow applicants to do the following:

  • Claim public funds
  • Bring in family members or dependants. They will need to apply separately
  • Reside in the UK for extended periods through frequent visits
  • Extend the Marriage Visitor visa or switch to another visa category
  • Take up employment – except for permitted activities related to the applicant’ work or business overseas. This may include activities such as attending meetings
  • Take up studies for more than 30 days.

Mary’s immediate and longer terms plans appeared to suggest that the Marriage Visitor visa was not the most appropriate option for her. Jonathan is a British Citizen living in the UK and Mary had expressed a desire to reside with Jonathan in the UK following their marriage.

Having set out the options to Mary, it became clear to her that the Marriage Visitor visa was too narrow for her needs. Such a visa would not enable her extend her stay in the UK beyond 6 months and make a life for herself with Jonathan, a British Citizen. Instead, we discussed the option of applying for a fiancée visa, which you can read about in my other blog post.

Needless to say, by talking through her immigration concerns with an expert, Mary saved herself further frustration and making a visa application that would not have met her immediate and longer term needs.

Updated post originally published on 19 July 2016.

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Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase immigration.

Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration assistance to individuals and families.

Call to action

We can assist you with your application.

If you still have questions or concerns or you would like straightforward immigration advice or assistance with your application to enter the UK and marry, then feel free to contact us.

Contact us at [email protected] visit  https://www.thomaschaseimmigration.com/contact-us to arrange a consultation. Or learn more about from our blogs

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Fiancée visa or Spouse visa? That is the Question

Why we charge for an immigration consultation

immigration consultation

It’s funny the things that stand out the most during your day. A client’s elderly mother had secured an EEA family permit to travel to the UK from Venezuela, which was even more pleasing given their situation.  Yet, it was a subsequent speculative email about an immigration consultation from, let’s call him Roberto, that lead me to write blog post about why we may offer an immigration consultation and charge a fee.

Roberto sent us a lengthy email, which I was asked to respond to. As a non- European Economic Area (EEA) national, he had, it appears, applied for a fiancé visa to marry his British partner. He contacted Thomas Chase Immigration after reading one of our blog posts, to seek personal advice about his and his partner’s next steps, the application process, timings and overall Home Office application fees.

Roberto said had contacted various firms in the past and that it was the Foreign and Commonwealth Office that advised him of the process to follow.  Only now that he was in the UK, he had received contradictory information leaving him a little confused.

Roberto had been told that if he applied to switch immigration categories, the application fee would be reduced from the fiancé visa fee. Only now, he had been told that the fee was going to be much higher than expected.

It was difficult to provide some general information in light of the full personal nature of the questions. I responded by saying that I could not offer Roberto specific information without knowing more information and that if he wished to receive advice tailored to his circumstances, that could be done by way of a telephone consultation, with the advice given provided in writing, for a fixed fee.

For some individuals who find the fee to be unsuitable, we refer them to the website of the Office of the Immigration Service Commissioner (OISC) so that they may locate another independent regulated immigration adviser whom may be in a position to offer free detailed advice

In Roberto’s case, his response was filled with anger and frustration that we had the temerity to charge for an immigration consultation. He acknowledged that the blog posts were well written and helpful, yet accused us of writing those blog posts with the sole intent of luring readers into paying for a consultation fee.

Roberto accused us of ‘gaming the system’ and said that he had since had a free consultation with another immigration company who quickly answered his questions and offered to take forward his application, an offer that he would likely take up.

So here’s the response that I sent to Roberto:

“I am pleased that you found the blog to be nicely written as our intention is to give our audience as much free general information as possible to help them take forward their own application, or at least be better informed.

Nevertheless, you seem angry and frustrated overall, so let me respond in more detail.

As stated in the earlier email, and on our Contact Us page and in responding to written comments on our blog posts, we can only answer general questions without charge.

We provide specific immigration advice to questions via a telephone consultation and that service carries a fee of £129 for our time, expertise and for preparing a written record of the advice given. And I’m afraid, your questions are personal ones about what is right for you based on your circumstances.

We could offer ‘free’ consultations, with the intent of ‘selling’ our application services at the higher rate; but often our consultations are detailed enough to answer the questions and help clients take forward matters on their own, if they wish.

What I am personally keen to do, having worked in the Home Office and seen the impact of poor immigration advice, is avoid giving general information to you over the phone, that would differ had I of known the full facts of your particular circumstances. After all, immigration applications are personal and dependent on the individual circumstances.

Our services are obviously not for you, though I am pleased that you have found assistance elsewhere“.

Sadly, Roberto proceeded to mansplain immigration and business, at which point there was nothing left to say. We certainly wish him all the best!

However, the point stands. We can offer general information during a call free and we enjoy engaging with you and helping point you in the right direction wherever possible. So do go ahead and give us a call.

What we cannot do as professionals during a general call, is give specific and personal advice based on unverified information. Had Roberto arranged a consultation, I would have answered his very specific questions, as well as reviewed his current visa to ensure that he was aware of the next step in the process, and was clear of the strict date by which the new application must be submitted.

Based on his circumstances, Roberto would have been given information about the immigration fees and additional costs such as the Immigration Health Surcharge. It would have also been useful to establish if there was anything about his matter, which had led to him receiving contradictory information. For instance, had something changed since his arrival to the UK?

There is a cost. Many of the clients that use this service feel informed and say that the feel so much clearer about the way forward. Many times that’s enough.  

What we do not need to do, is offer free consultations so that we may hard sell the application service. That’s just not our approach, though it works for some. And in any case, it often leads to some advisers having to contradict their earlier ‘advice’ during the free immigration consultation, once they are in possession of all the verifiable data and information. I’ve seen this before when I worked in a law firm and clients can get very annoyed!

As I had said to Roberto, we are not for everyone, and that’s fine. There are more than enough OISC regulated immigration advisers to cater to the needs of the individuals seeking assistance.

If you have a general question, you can call; get in touch via the blogs; or send an email to [email protected] 

Nonetheless, if you would like to arrange an immigration consultation for advice about your specific circumstances, we can help too. But there will be a fee.

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Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase immigration.

Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration assistance to individuals and families.

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