Obtaining a fiancé visa is a significant step for those planning to marry in the UK, offering a six-month period to arrange and conduct your wedding. However, circumstances can sometimes prevent couples from tying the knot within this limited duration. This raises an important question: what happens if you can’t get married within the six months as initially planned?
This guide addresses this very concern. We’ll also look into what you should know about switching from a fiancé to a spouse visa and other related topics. Let’s get started!
Is it Possible to Apply for a Fiance Visa Extension?
The short answer is yes, under particular situations. The UK’s immigration rules acknowledge that unforeseen circumstances, such as illness or other legitimate reasons, can delay a couple’s wedding plans. In these instances, fiance visa holders may apply to extend their visa to remain in the UK for another six months.
According to the Immigration Rules, a key criterion for extension is a ‘good reason’ for the inability to marry or form a civil partnership during the initial visa period. However, what constitutes a ‘good reason’ isn’t explicitly defined in the rules or Home Office guidance; it’s evaluated on an individual basis.
Applicants seeking an extension must provide substantial evidence explaining why the marriage couldn’t occur within the initial visa timeframe. This should include detailed documentation of the circumstances that led to the delay. Additionally, evidence of the rescheduled wedding or civil partnership, set to occur within the next six months, is essential. This might involve showing plans, bookings, or arrangements for the upcoming ceremony.
Furthermore, applicants must prove that they continue to meet all other criteria for a fiancé visa, including the relationship’s genuineness, financial stability, and suitable accommodation. Given that the marriage or civil partnership did not take place as originally planned, UK immigration may scrutinise the authenticity of the relationship more closely than in the initial application.
This extension application requires meticulous preparation and presentation, backed up by comprehensive evidence demonstrating the ongoing and genuine nature of the relationship.
What Should I Do If I Don’t Have a Valid “Good Reason”?
In situations where you cannot provide a valid ‘good reason’ for not marrying within the initial fiancé visa period, there’s an alternative route. This involves leaving the UK and reapplying for entry clearance as a fiancé outside the UK. This approach is pretty similar to the in-country extension application, requiring a thorough explanation of why the marriage didn’t take place during the previous stay.
Given that the initial opportunity wasn’t utilised for marriage, the Home Office might scrutinise your relationship, your intentions to marry, and your ability to do so within the next six months more closely. It’s important to include detailed plans demonstrating your intention to tie the knot within six months of your arrival in the UK.
The new entry clearance application under Appendix FM requires fulfilling several key requirements like the usual visa application. These include confirming your sponsor’s status, both you and your sponsor’s age, and evidence of meeting in person.
It must also be evident that both parties are free to marry, the connection is legitimate with intentions to stay together in the UK, and that any prior relationships have ended. Moreover, the application should confirm that the fiancé will be adequately maintained in the UK and meet the necessary English language requirements.
Upon successful re-entry to the UK, the visa granted will again be for six months. Within this timeframe, the marriage must take place, followed by an application for leave to remain as the spouse of a British citizen before the expiry of this visa.
Switching to a UK Spouse Visa from a Fiance Visa
After your marriage in the UK, if you wish to continue your life together in the country, your next step will be to apply for a spouse visa. This switch is essential for those who want to establish a long-term residence with their partner in the UK.
The spouse visa, unlike the fiancé visa, permits the visa holder to stay and work in the UK. It is originally given for 2.5 years. However, you can live in the UK for another 2.5 years with a spouse visa extension. After five years in the UK on the spouse visa, you will be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), which grants permanent residency in the UK, enabling you to settle in the UK with your partner.
The eligibility for a spouse visa includes having a legally recognised marriage in the UK, meeting financial requirements, and possibly passing an English language test. It’s vital to prepare and organise all the required documentation to prove that your relationship is genuine and that you meet all other requirements.
Check out the UK spouse visa requirements in detail.
Need Help with UK Fiance Visa Application or Extension?
If you’re facing challenges with your UK fiancé visa or any other UK family visa application or extension, our team at Spouse Visa Lawyers is here to assist. We understand the intricacies and nuances of UK immigration law and are dedicated to helping couples navigate this complex process.
Our expertise covers everything from initial applications to extensions, ensuring your journey towards a life together in the UK is as smooth as possible. Let us deal with the legalities while you concentrate on your future in the UK.
For personalised guidance and support, contact Spouse Visa Lawyers today to learn how we can help you make your application successful.
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The information provided in our articles is intended solely for guidance and should not be considered legal advice. We do not assume responsibility for any liabilities arising from the information in written articles and recommend that all readers seek professional advice before taking any action. For those wishing to discuss their case with a professional, please feel free to contact us directly.
Dr Bernard Andonian has over four decades of experience as a London-based UK Immigration Solicitor and was also a former immigration Judge. He has been awarded a PhD in Law from the University of West London for his in-depth knowledge of UK immigration and nationality law. He has served on the Law Society Immigration Law Panel, achieved numerous groundbreaking decisions in higher courts whilst representing clients in the UK, and is featured in the Legal 500’s Hall of Fame.