If you are a non-UK national looking to get married and subsequently set up home in the UK with your new spouse or civil partner, you may need to apply for a UK fiancé visa.
In this guide to the UK’s fiancé visa requirements, we explain the essential aspects of this immigration route, from how to apply, to what happens if your visa application is refused.
What does the fiance visa allow?
The fiance visa falls under the broad category of family visas, which allow an overseas national to come to the UK to join a qualifying family member, including a fiance or proposed civil partner. Under the fiance subcategory, you will be allowed to get married in the UK or to enter into a civil partnership within a period of 6 months of your arrival.
Even though a fiance visa will only last for 6 months and you will not be permitted to work during this time, provided you meet the marriage or civil partnership requirement within the requisite timeframe, you can extend your stay in the UK as the new spouse or civil partner of a qualifying sponsor for a period of 2.5 years. Once you have continuously lived in the UK for a period of 5 years, excluding any time spent in the UK under your fiance visa, you will then potentially be eligible to apply to permanently settle in the UK.
How does the fiance visa differ to other UK family visas?
The fiance visa is a very specific type of visa designed for couples who are wanting to both get married and to start married life together in the UK. There are, however, various other types of visas to accommodate several different scenarios for couples. Below we set out a brief summary of these visa-types and how these differ to the fiance visa.
If you are looking to come to the UK to live with your loved one, but have no immediate plans to get married or to enter into a civil partnership, you may be eligible for a partner visa. This is different to the fiance visa which requires you to get married within 6 months.
A partner visa will allow you to live in the UK with your fiance or proposed civil partner for a period of more than 6 months, provided you have been living together for at least 2 years when you apply. Put simply, you must have been in a relationship which is akin to a marriage or a civil partnership at the date of application, and you and your fiance/proposed civil partner must both intend to live together in the UK once you are granted a visa.
If you have lived together for at least 2 years, it is usually best to apply for a partner visa rather than a fiance visa. Under a partner visa, you will initially be granted permission to live in the UK for 2 years and 9 months. This means that you will not have to make another application as soon as you get married, and you will be able to work from the outset. You will also be eligible to extend your stay in the UK by 2.5 years, before applying to settle.
If you have recently married outside the UK, but would like to start your new life together living in the UK, you may be eligible for a spouse visa. A spouse visa will allow you to come to the UK to live with your new husband, wife or civil partner for an initial period of 2 years and 9 months, provided you are in a marriage or civil partnership that is recognised in the UK and you intend to live together permanently on the grant of your visa.
As with the partner visa, shortly prior to expiry of your spouse visa, you will then be eligible to extend your stay in the UK by a further period of 2.5 years, before applying to settle.
Marriage visitor visa
If you are simply looking to come to the UK to get married or to enter into a civil partnership, you may be eligible for a marriage visitor visa. You can apply for a visit visa if you would like to get married in the UK, or register a civil partnership, but are not planning to stay on after your marriage or civil partnership takes place. Under this type of visa you can marry or enter into a civil partnership at a UK venue licensed for this purpose, but you will be required to leave the UK at the end of your visit and within no more than 6 months.
The marriage visitor visa is different to a fiance visa, where you will not be required with the latter to leave the UK at the end of your 6 month stay. Instead, under a fiance visa, you can apply to switch to a spouse visa and on to a path to permanent settlement.
Fiancé visa requirements
To be eligible for a fiance visa, you and your fiance or proposed civil partner must both be aged 18 or over, and your fiancé must either:
- be a British or Irish citizen
- have settled permanently in the UK, for example, they have indefinite leave to remain, proof of permanent residence or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS)
- be from the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland and have pre-settled status under the EUSS
- have either a Turkish businessperson visa or Turkish worker visa
- have either refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK.
As a fiance visa applicant, you must show:
- You intend to marry your fiancé within the six-month duration of the visa.
- There will be adequate accommodation for you and any dependants, and that you will be able to maintain yourselves and any dependents without the support of public funds.
- Any of your or your fiancés previous relationships (married or unmarried) have ended.
- There will be adequate accommodation for you and any dependants, and that you will be able to maintain yourselves and any dependents without the support of UK public funds.
- Your fiancé earns more than £18,600 per year or has enough savings to be able to support you without claiming public funds. If you have dependent children, the minimum financial requirement is higher.
- You must satisfy the English language requirements.
These requirements must also be met for anyone applying for a partner or spouse visa.
Additionally, if you are applying for a fiance visa, you must prove that you are seeking to enter the UK to enable your marriage or civil partnership to take place, that you plan to marry or to become civil partners within a period of 6 months of your arrival in the UK, and that any previous marriages or civil partnerships have come to an end. As a fiance visa only lasts for 6 months, this will be granted by the Home Office under the assumption that you will marry or enter into a civil partnership within the validity period of the visa.
Importantly, you will not be permitted to work during your engagement, so you must be able to show that you are able to support yourself financially. It is only after you have got married or entered into a civil partnership, and you apply to extend your stay on this basis, ie; under a spouse visa, that you will be permitted to undertake paid employment.
Finally, to be eligible for a fiance visa, you will need to demonstrate that you have a good knowledge of the English language to the required level.
How to apply for a fiancé visa
To apply for a fiance visa, you must complete an application online on the Home Office website from outside the UK. You will then need to pay the relevant fee and attend an appointment at an overseas visa application centre to enrol your biometric information.
When completing your application, you will be asked to provide your own personal details, including details of anyone you previously married or were in a civil partnership with, or you have children with. You will also be asked to provide details of your fiance or proposed civil partner, including any previous marriages or civil partnerships, anyone your partner has children with, and anyone your partner financially supports, for example, their parents.
Equally, you will be required to go into detail about your relationship with your fiance or proposed civil partner, such as how you met, and how often you see or speak to each other, as well as how long you have lived together, where relevant. The whole purpose of these types of questions is to ascertain that your relationship is genuine and subsisting, and that your stated intentions to get married or enter into a civil partnership are true.
Fiancé visa supporting documents
In addition to having a current passport or other valid travel ID, you will need to provide proof of your relationship with your fiance or proposed civil partner, and of your plans to get married or to enter into a civil partnership within 6 months of being in the UK.
You will need to submit various different types of official documentation, such as joint bank statements and/or proof of living together outside the UK, where relevant, for example, a joint tenancy agreement or utility bills. However, unlike other partner visa categories, there is no strict requirement for you and your UK sponsor to have lived together before making an application. Still, the Home Office will generally expect to see some evidence of planning or arrangements for your wedding day or for your civil partnership ceremony.
Where relevant, you will also need evidence of any previous marriages or civil partnerships ending, for example, a divorce certificate or final dissolution order. Finally, you will need documentation to show that you meet the financial and English language requirements.
To meet the financial requirement, this may be evidence of your own annual income or savings, or that of your fiance or proposed civil partner, showing that you can meet certain minimum financial thresholds. To meet the language requirement, you must be able to show that you are either a national of a majority English speaking country, have a UK-degree or PhD, or a UK-equivalent degree taught or researched in English, or that you have passed a basic English language test in speaking and listening.
You will be exempt from the English language requirement if you are aged 65 or over, have a disability which prevents you from meeting this requirement, or there are exceptional circumstances preventing you from meeting this requirement prior to entry to the UK.
How much does a fiancé visa application cost?
To apply for a fiance visa, the application fee when applying from outside the UK is £1,538. Having got married or entered into a civil partnership, you will then be required to apply for an extension of stay as the spouse or civil partner of your UK sponsor if you intend to live together in the UK. This will cost an additional £1,048.
When you apply to extend your stay, you may also need to pay what is known as an immigration healthcare surcharge (IHS) as part of your application. This is payable at a rate of £624 per year of stay and will allow you to access the UK’s National Health Service free of charge. This means that if you are granted an extension of 2.5 years, you will need to pay a total IHS of £1,560. This is in addition to the visa application fee.
A decision on a fiance visa application from outside the UK can take as long as 24 weeks, although a decision on an extension application from within the UK will usually be made within around 8 weeks if you use the standard service. However, in either case, you may be able to pay for one of the priority services to get a faster decision, although this does not necessarily guarantee your application will be successful.
Your application might take longer, for example, if you need to attend an interview, have a criminal conviction or other personal circumstances that need to be carefully reviewed by the UK Home Office, or you have not provided all the evidence that the Home Office needs.
What happens if your fiancé visa application is refused?
It is not uncommon for the Home Office to refuse an application for a fiance visa. This is often because of a lack of documentation sufficient to demonstrate that you and your fiance or proposed civil partner have a genuine and subsisting relationship and/or that you intend to get married or enter into a civil partnership within 6 months of arriving in the UK.
However, if your visa is refused, you should have a right of appeal to what is known as the first-tier tribunal, although it is always best to seek specialist legal advice from an expert in immigration law. These types of cases can be complex, with much at stake, so you will need to know exactly where you stand legally and what options are available to you.
At DavidsonMorris we have the experience and insight to make the process as smooth as possible.
As a team of immigration lawyers and former Home Office employees, we have an established reputation for effective and efficient management and processing of visa applications, and for providing expert visa-related advice. We also understand the stresses involved with moving across the world, and take great pride in playing a supportive role to ease the pressure. Contact us for specialist advice on a fiancé visa application.
Fiancé visa requirements FAQs
How long does it take to get a fiancé visa?
A fiancé visa can take up to 6 months for a decision to be made by the UK Home Office, although you may be able to pay for a faster decision.
Is a fiancé visa faster or spouse?
A fiancé visa and a spouse visa both fall under the category of family visas. If applying outside the UK, in either case, a decision can take up to 24 weeks.
What is required for a fiancé visa?
To be eligible to apply for a fiancé visa, you must meet various requirements, including the requirement that you intend to marry or to enter into a civil partnership within 6 months of being in the UK.
Do you have to be engaged to apply for a fiancé visa?
To apply for a fiancé visa you must be engaged to marry, or have a proposed civil partner. You must also plan to marry or enter into a civil partnership once you get to the UK.
Last updated: 14 December 2022