A Marriage Visitor Visa is needed if you are a foreign national from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland wanting to travel to the UK to get married or register a civil partnership, or to give notice of your intention to do so, and you intend to leave the UK at the end of your visit.
This visa typically caters for individuals who wish to get married or register a civil partnership in the UK with a person who is not settled in the UK, i.e. they do not hold indefinite leave to remain or a British citizen.
On arrival in the UK a visitor coming to marry or register a civil partnership, or give notice of this, must have a valid visit visa endorsed for this purpose, with the name of your fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner.
The Marriage Visitor Visa is not suitable for individuals who plan to stay or settle in the UK after they are married or have registered a civil partnership.
It is also not available to individuals who qualify for British citizenship.
What does a Marriage Visitor Visa allow you to do?
Under the Marriage Visitor Visa, you are permitted to marry or enter into a civil partnership in the UK within 6 months of arriving. The ceremony must take place at a licensed venue. You can also travel through the UK ‘in transit to another country.
With a Marriage Visitor Visa, you must not intend to live in the UK for extended periods through frequent or successive visits, or undertake any prohibited activities such as work or study.
A Marriage Visitor Visa will not permit you to switch to a different visa category while in the UK, nor to extend your visa. You will be required to leave the UK and return home to apply for a different type of visa once your existing visa expires.
There may be other visa options available to you in the event that you wish to live and work in the UK after you get married or enter into a civil partnership; take advice on your circumstances and potential alternative immigration routes.
As a Marriage Visitor Visa holder, you will also not be allowed to work, access public funds, or study for more than 30 days (although studying cannot be your primary reason for travel).
Should I look at the Marriage Visitor Visa or Fiancé Visa?
If you are planning to marry or enter into a civil partnership in the UK you will need to carefully consider whether or not the Marriage Visitor Visa is the right visa for you.
If you are looking to remain in the UK after you get married or form a civil partnership, you will need to consider other alternatives. For example, if your partner is a permanent resident in the UK, you may want to apply for a visa as the fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner of a settled person.
By discussing different visa options with immigration specialists, you can identify the best available option to meet your immediate and long term needs.
Are you eligible for a Marriage Visitor Visa?
To eligible to come to the UK under the Marriage Visitor Visa, you must be:
- A national of a non-EEA country
- Aged 18 or over
- In a genuine relationship
- Free to marry or enter into a civil partnership, or give notice of marriage or civil partnership, in the UK within the validity period covered by their visa.
- Intending to marry or form a civil partnership, or give notice of this.
Note also that it is a legal requirement in the UK to provide at least 28 days’ notice of a marriage or civil partnership at a designated register office.
To qualify for entry clearance to the UK as a visitor for the purpose of marriage or to form a civil partnership, you must also meet the following general UK visitor entry requirements:
- Be genuinely seeking entry to the UK for a limited period not exceeding six months and intend to leave at the end of your visit.
- Be in a position to support and accommodate yourself without recourse to public funds or taking employment in the UK.
- Be able to meet the cost of the return or onward journey to your home country or country of residence.
How do I apply for a Marriage Visitor Visa?
Provided you meet the eligibility requirements, you apply for a Marriage Visitor Visa on the Home Office website. You will be required to explain, amongst other things, the purpose of your intended visit, together with details of your fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner and your future plans together. You will also have to pay the relevant application fee.
You will also need to have your fingerprints and photograph taken at a visa application centre. This is known as your ‘biometric information’.
What documents are required for a Marriage Visitor Visa?
When applying for a Marriage Visitor Visa you will be required to submit a number of documents, including but not necessarily limited to, the following:
- Your original and current passport or other valid travel identification.
- Details of where you intend to stay and your travel plans.
- Details of the arrangements for notification of the marriage or civil partnership, such as a letter from the register office.
- Details of the arrangements that have been made or are being made for your wedding or civil partnership to take place in the UK during your visit. This could include booking confirmation with the wedding venue and/or proof of any deposit monies paid.
- Documentary proof that you can support yourself during the entirety of your visit, for example, bank statements or payslips.
- Documentary proof of your future plans for your relationship, including where you intend to live once you have married or entered into a civil partnership.
Depending on your circumstances, you may also be required to provide further documentation. For example, where you have previously been married you may need to produce a decree absolute or death certificate for your former spouse to show that you are free to remarry or enter into a civil partnership.
How long does it take to apply for a Marriage Visitor Visa?
You can submit your application for a Marriage Visitor Visa three months ahead of your intended date of travel to the UK. This is the earliest that you can apply and you should usually get a decision within a matter of a few short weeks.
Processing times can vary depending on the location of your embassy or consulate, as well as your individual circumstances. You can check the guide processing times to find out how long getting a visa might take in your country.
A Marriage Visitor Visa will only be issued for a maximum of six months. During that time, you will be expected to marry or enter into a civil partnership in the UK and then return to your home country or country of residence.
However, entry clearance officers have the discretion to issue a multiple entry visa, valid for up to one year, in cases where there will be a delay between giving notice and the marriage or civil partnership taking place.
Do you have a question about the Marriage Visitor Visa?
DavidsonMorris is a law firm specialising in UK immigration. We help individuals with their UK immigration needs, and can guide and support you through any Home Office process, including an application to visit the UK to get married. If you have a question about the Marriage Visitor Visa, please contact us.