UK settlement fiancee / fiance visa – Quick Facts
Important Announcement: New UK Immigration Rules after 9 July 2012
What is a “Fiance(e)”?
A fiance(e) is a person who is engaged to be married. The marriage must be legally possible according to laws of the UK. In the context of partner migration, the term “fiance(e)” is used to mean a man and a woman who intend to marry each other in the UK. Same sex couples are referred to as “proposed civil partners”.
Who can apply for a UK fiancee / fiance visa?
If you are a British citizen, whether by birth or through naturalisation, or lawful permanent resident of the UK with no time restriction on your stay (Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or Right of Abode), and you want your foreign fiance(e) to travel to the UK to marry you and subsequently apply to settle in the UK, you may be eligible to sponsor your loved one for a settlement fiancee visa. Generally, you and your foreign fiancee must be legally free to marry* and meet all other eligibility requirements in order to file a successful application.
Is there a requirement to have met in person?
You must have met your fiance/fiancee ‘face-to-face’ prior to sponsoring him or her for a UK fiancee visa. Please note that although there is no official requirement that the two people must spend a certain amount of time together in person in order to qualify for a settlement fiancee visa, the British Consulates around the world tend to be extremely skeptical of couples with no extensive face-to-face meeting history prior to sponsorship (it’s just one of the many "rules of thumb").
What is the age requirement to qualify for a UK fiancee / fiance visa?
Both the sponsor and the sponsored non-EEA national must be at least 21 years of age or older to qualify for a UK settlement fiancee / fiance visa (or 18 years old if the sponsor or the fiancee is a serving member of HM Forces).
Can I apply for a UK fiancee / fiance visa before I turn 21?
The foreign fiancee must be at least 21 years of age or older on the date of arrival in the UK on a settlement fiancee visa (see exception above). Therefore in cases where the applicant is about to turn 21, and the sponsor is 21 or over, the examining entry clearance officers may issue a visa at their discretion. In such cases an entry clearance will be valid only from the date the applicant turns 21.
Can I sponsor my fiance(e) for a UK fiancee / fiance visa if my divorce is not yet finalised?
If you are able to prove that your divorce proceedings are well under way, you may sponsor your loved one for a UK settlement fiancee / fiance visa even though the divorce process is not yet finalised. We invite you to contact our UK Settlement Visa Department for a detailed consultation to determine the most appropriate strategy for your specific case.
Can a fiancee / fiance visa holder work in the UK?
Unfortunately, a settlement fiancee / fiance visa does not permit the holder to work in the UK. Immediately after the marriage, the foreign spouse may apply for further leave to remain with permission to work in the UK. It should be noted that the spouse does not need to wait until their initial six-month fiancee / fiance visa is about to expire in order to apply for further leave to remain based on marriage to a British Citizen or lawful permanent resident.
My fiance(e) is in receipt of public funds. Can I still apply for a UK fiancee / fiance visa?
The sponsoring British citizen or permanent resident (Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or Right of Abode) is required to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the examining entry clearance officer that their foreign fiancee / fiance will have adequate means of support in the UK. The purpose of this process is to prove that the intended immigrant has adequate means of financial support and is unlikely to become a public charge in the UK. Sponsors may themselves be in receipt of public funds that they are legally entitled to receive in their own right. An existing benefit claim will not automatically prevent a British citizen from sponsoring their foreign fiancee for a UK settlement visa as long as they can prove that there will be no need for them to claim additional public funds in order to support their loved one in the UK. Please note that each case is assessed on its own merits, especially when it comes to ‘borderline cases’ that are decided on a 'balance of probabilities'. We invite you to contact our UK Settlement Visa Department for a detailed consultation to determine the most appropriate strategy for your specific case.
My fiancé(e) lives ‘paycheck to paycheck’ and has no savings. Can he still sponsor me for a UK fiancee / fiance visa?
There is no legal requirement that the sponsoring British citizens and permanent residents maintain a certain balance in their bank account in order to file a successful UK settlement fiancee / fiance visa application on behalf of their foreign fiancee. In fact, most of our clients live ‘paycheck to paycheck’. However, it’s important to keep a bank account ‘healthy’ as unstable (overdrawn) bank accounts can often prove a problem with settlement applications being refused on financial grounds. Essentially, the sponsor must convince the examining immigration officials that a) their total monthly outgoings will not exceed their household income once their foreign fiancee relocates to the UK; and b) that they are capable of supporting their fiancee and any dependants without help from public funds (or additional public funds in case of existing benefit claims that the sponsoring British citizen is legally entitled to make in their own right). It should be noted that in 2006 the Immigration and Asylum Chamber (formerly the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal or AIT) strongly suggested that it would not be appropriate to have immigrant families existing on resources that were less than the income support level for a British family of that size. This means that in order to avoid a refusal on financial grounds, the sponsor is required to show the amount equivalent to means-tested benefit after all monthly accommodation expenses, council tax and utilities have been paid. The remaining amount in the sponsor’s bank account should not be less than the same that is given as benefit. However, a successful outcome also depends on the applicant’s employment potential and savings, whether the sponsor is renting or owns their property in the UK and many other factors. As we stated above, each case is assessed on its own merits, especially when it comes to ‘borderline cases’ that are decided on a 'balance of probabilities'. We invite you to contact our team of professional immigration consultants that will help you determine the most appropriate strategy for your specific case.
When can I apply for further leave to remain?
Once you are legally married, you can apply for further leave to remain (FLR) immediately. You do not need to wait until your initial six-month fiancee / fiance visa is about to expire in order to qualify for an extension of stay based on marriage to a British Citizen or lawful permanent resident. You can apply at one of the UK Border Agency’s public enquiry offices in person or by making a postal application. The benefit of applying in person is that your FLRm application will be processed ‘right on the spot’, although this attracts a higher processing fee. Postal applications invariably take far longer and are out of your control, although the fee is lower. Please be aware that postal applications can take up to three months to be processed by the Border Agency. It should be noted that a settlement fiancee / fiance visa is multiple entry up until the point of marriage. Therefore you must not leave the UK until after your spousal visa (further leave to remain) is approved and issued to you. If you leave the UK after the marriage (please note that a short honeymoon in Paris would be considered a trip outside the UK), you may not re-enter on the same fiancee visa.