Fiancée visa or Spouse visa? That is the Question

Of all the visa types, assisting clients with fiancée visa or spouse visa applications are some of my favorites. Perhaps I’m an old fashioned romantic but I simply enjoy helping couples secure visas to reunite and carry on their lives together.

And so it was with Raj, a dual British national living and working in the United Kingdom (UK), and Louisa, an American citizen from California.

Raj and Louisa met during their university studies in the UK over 3 years. At the end of their undergraduate studies and Louisa’s Tier 4 student visa, Louisa returned to the United States (US) and took up a lucrative position in New York.

Raj remained in the UK and went on to study for his Masters’ degree before starting and running his own business.

The one constant was Louisa and Raj’s relationship to each other, something that they maintained via Skype, Facetime, email and regular trips abroad whenever their schedules (and finances) allowed it. As Raj’s business grew, he had less freedom to visit Louisa as before, though the funds to do so. For Louisa, taking more time off to visit the UK and spend time Raj was proving increasingly difficult as her employers were not always understanding of her inability to change her travel at short notice.

And so, Raj and Louisa approached me for advice. Raj and Louisa wanted to take their relationship to the next stage and live together. They did their research, readily admitting to me that much of the information they had read elsewhere was either complicated or contradictory.

Based on their research, they both agreed to try and secure a fiancée visa for Louisa to come to the UK to marry Raj. Yep! They were going to tie the knot!!! I warned you I was a bit of a romantic!

Once in the UK, Louisa planned to apply for a spouse visa to remain in the UK with Raj.

And that’s when they contacted me to assist them with applying for a fiancée visa.

However, rather than launch into preparing the fiancée visa, I wanted to make sure Raj and Louisa understood the immigration requirements and were aware of their options.

Fiancée visa

Fiancée visas allow overseas nationals, from outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) to enter the UK and marry their British or ‘settled’ partner.

The marriage must take place within 6 months of entry.

This visa type was attractive to Louisa because she could stay in the UK and apply for a UK spouse visa.

I also explained to Raj and Louisa that fiancée visas were very different from marriage visas, the latter being a short term visa to enter the UK to marry only. At the end of the 6 months’ visa, the marriage visa holder must leave the UK.

Clearly, Louisa’s wish was to remain in the UK so a marriage visa was immediately discounted.

Fiancée visa requirements

Though not an exhaustive list, to qualify for a fiancée visa, Louisa would have to demonstrate that:

  • Raj is over 18 years of age
  • That she and Raj had met each other and are in a genuine relationship together
  • That they both intend to live together on a permanent basis once married
  • That they are both free to enter into a relationship with each other
  • They intend to marry in the UK within 6 months
  • They have sufficient funds to support themselves
  • That Raj, as the sponsor, earns a minimum salary of £18,600 per annum or equivalent in savings
  • They have suitable accommodation in the UK

Of importance was helping Raj and Louisa understand  UK Visas and Immigration’s (UKVI’s) application fees and when they would be incurred.

Raj was somewhat shocked to hear of the level of fees involved. For instance, a fiancée visa would cost Louisa and Raj around $2,050 USD at the point of submission on the online application. And they would have to incur similar fees, within 6 months, for a spouse visa as well as incur the Immigration Health Surcharge.

In fact, although they both had well paid jobs, their various overseas trips to see each other and wedding plans had depleted both of their savings.

Spouse visa

We discussed their options further and Louisa revealed that her preference was to marry in California. She had a large family and it would prove logically easier and cost effective to have the wedding in the US.

Raj appeared easy going about the location of the wedding. His family was much smaller and he just wanted to move matters forward.

Another area of concern for Louisa was employment. Louisa considered a 6 months’ career gap to be a long one and was not aware that she could not work while holding a fiancée visa.

Why not get married in California?

Raj and Louisa hadn’t really considered this as an option. Quite rightly they were focused on securing Louisa’s immediate long term stay in the UK, but I wanted to highlight that they had wider options.

Spouse visa requirements

Though not an exhaustive list, to qualify for a spouse visa, Louisa would have to demonstrate that:

  • Raj is over 18 years of age
  • That she and Raj had entered into a genuine marriage
  • That they both intend to live together on a permanent basis once married
  • That they are both free to enter into a relationship with each other
  • They intend to marry in the UK within 6 months
  • They have sufficient funds to support themselves
  • That Raj, as the sponsor, earns a minimum salary of £18,600 per annum or equivalent in savings
  • They have suitable accommodation in the UK

Applying for a spouse visa from New York or California would negate the need for Louisa and Raj to incur fiancée visa fees and for Louisa’s family members to travel to London.

Also, Louisa would be granted entry to the UK for 30 months, and could immediately take up employment. The fact that their marriage would be a recent one, and could be subjected to further scrutiny by UKVI, was something that could be overcome with proper preparation of the application.

Conclusion

Six months later, Louisa secured a spouse visa UK and is currently in the UK.

And I am pleased with the part that I played in helping Louisa to secure her spouse visa from New York, drafting the application form on Louisa’s behalf, advising on the documents to be provided and inspecting them, preparing the application bundle of documents and booking the biometric appointment for her. Like I said at the start, I enjoy seeing couples reunited.

Here’s wishing Louisa and Raj all the best!

And by the way, the main picture is not a photo of Raj and Louisa, but I have seen the wedding photos and they are gorgeous!

Over to you. Have you applied for a spouse visa or fiancée visa and how did you find the experience?

If not, do you need straightforward immigration advice or guidance? Contact us at [email protected] for a quick reply.

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

Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration help to individuals and families secure visas to travel to and remain in the UK.

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12 Replies to “Fiancée visa or Spouse visa? That is the Question”

  1. Hi Carl,

    Great article. Very detailed!

    I’m hoping you can guide me further on our sitation.
    I am an Australian National living in Melbourne and my partner is a British Citizen in london. We met at a common family friends wedding in London and have been together for just under 5 years. I have visited London 4 times and we meet each other oveseas as well.

    We recently got engaged in the UK and have decided to marry in the UK and live in the UK for the forseable future. Can you please advise on which visa should I apply for in order to travel to the Uk, provided notice of marrige, marry and then extend the stay.

    Thank you!
    Nish

    1. Hi Nish,

      Congratulations on your engagement! And thank you for your feedback!

      Unfortunately, we cannot provide specific advice in this forum.

      However, we would be happy to arrange a telephone consultation to discuss the immigration requirements and help you identify the most suitable options based on your circumstances.

      Contact us at [email protected] if you would like to arrange this.

  2. Hi,

    My partner is a british citizen, i have complete my studies in the UK as well and returned to Kuwait where my family lives to work. We only got to meet once in 4 years f our relationship because of employment issues and family pressure as we both belong to different sect. We considered applying for the fiancee visa but immigration lawyers advised as against it for not having enough evidence although we do have out watsapp conversations and pictures of when we met in the UK and boarding passes of his visit to my country last year. We are now considering to apply for a marriage visitor visa as we want to hold the wedding in the UK again because of family reasons. What is the best way to secure a spouse visa within the shortest period of time after being married there i understand i will have to exit the UK and apply for a spouse visa. Is there a priority service for this how long does it take? Or if he comes to Kuwait and we get our registry done here any priority service in this case like visa acceptance within a month or so?

    1. Hello Ari,

      Unfortunately, we cannot provide specific advice in this forum.

      We would be happy to arrange a telephone consultation to discuss your and your family’s circumstances and immigration options.

      Contact us at [email protected] if you would like to arrange this.

  3. Wondering if you could help I’m a British citizen wanting my fiance to join me from Uganda, I was wondering if we apply for a fiance visa do we have to pay the fee again when changing to a marriage visa (after marrying in the UK) if so would we be better getting married in Uganda before applying for him to join me thus applying for a marriage visa instead. Alrhough we meet all the requirements i would like to avoid paying near 3000 instead of near 1500.

    Any help will be helpful

    1. Hi Chanel,

      Unfortunately, we cannot give personal immigration advice in this forum, and can only provide general guidance.

      In your case, much will depend on a number of factors such as your overall intentions and whether you and your partner meets each of the immigration requirements, as set out in the Immigration Rules.

      If you would like specific immigration advice, please feel free to contact us at [email protected] to arrange a telephone consultation.

  4. Thank you for the detailed article. I’m a US citizen returned from a 177 days visitors visa trip from UK visiting my entire family(UK citizens). I also got engaged during this trip with both our families around.

    We’re considering if we should consider a Fiancé visa, and if so we plan to get married in 1st or 2nd month of my arrival in UK. Then would we be able to switch stays to Spouse and if so, how long would that process take and when could I start working in UK? Do I have to leave UK after marriage?

    The other option we considered is my UK fiancé traveling to USA on Fiancé visa, we get married in court and returns back to UK. Then apply for Spouse visa?

    Our goal is to be together and with our families both our parents are elderly.

    Thank you for any guidance you may provide us.

    1. Hi Ani,

      We are glad you enjoyed the article. Thanks for the feedback!

      Unfortunately, we cannot give personal immigration advice in this forum, and can only provide general guidance.

      In your case, much will depend on a number of factors such as your overall intentions and timings.

      If you would like specific immigration advice, please feel free to contact us at [email protected] to arrange a telephone consultation.

  5. Thank you. I found the comments very helpful and straight forward. However, I need clarification on one point. If my fiancee apply for a fiancee visa , can she apply for the spouse visa whilst being in the UK or she has to go back home and apply for the spouse visa.

    1. I also explained to Raj and Louisa that fiancée visas were very different from marriage visas, the latter being a short term visa to enter the UK to marry only. At the end of the 6 months’ visa, the marriage visa holder must leave the UK.
    2. Such visas are issued for 6 months but the applicant may switch to the spouse visa category from within the UK.
    Thank you
    James

    1. Glad you found the comments helpful.

      Generally, holders of fiancée visas may switch into the spouse visa category from within the UK, providing they meet the immigration requirements.

      Both fiancée and marriage visas are issued for 6 months. One of the key differences is that the marriage visitor visa holders must leave the UK at the end of their visit.

      Hope that helps!

  6. Thank you so much for very helpful imformation from all your blogs.
    Me and my fiance we are interested in applying visa. I´m living in UK and my fiance is currently back home in Albania. Our relation is 3 years.
    I would kindy ask you for help what´s the difference between fiance and umarried visa?

    Thanks a lot for your answer, Anna

    1. Hi Anna,

      Thanks for getting in touch. I’m glad the blogs are proving helpful!

      An unmarried partner visa allows a person to enter or stay in the UK so that they may maintain their relationship with a person who is present and settled in the UK. That person could be a British citizen or a person with indefinite leave to remain.
      The couple must have lived together in a relationship akin to marriage.

      If successful, the visa will be issued for 33 months initially.

      Fiancée visas are for those planning to travel to the UK to marry and reside with their partner who is present and settled in the UK. With such visas, there is no requirement for the couple to have lived together for at least 2 years.

      Such visas are issued for 6 months but the applicant may switch to the spouse visa category from within the UK.

      I hope that helps.

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