As the spouse or civil partner of a person present and settled in the UK, subsequent to the marriage or civil partnership you can apply to change your initial fiancée visa to a provisional spousal visa by submitting a Further Leave to Remain application to the Border Agency from the UK. You are not required to return to your home country in order to apply for a spousal visa through a British Consulate or High Commission. If you are looking to settle in the UK, you can also apply for further leave to remain on behalf of your dependants, if they are your children under the age of eighteen and you have full custodian rights or a written permission from their father allowing them to settle in the UK.
While the fiancée and proposed civil partner visas are normally valid for six months, there is no obligation to wait until your initial visa is about to expire in order to apply for extended permission to stay in the UK. You can initiate the spouse visa process at any point after marrying your sponsor as long as you and your sponsor meet the eligibility requirements established by the UK immigration authorities. There is also a non-refundable fee to be paid at the time of application.
It is imperative that you apply for your Further Leave to Remain before the end of your authorised stay in the UK. Be aware that ignorance is no defence in terms of outstaying your current permission to be in the UK – it is your responsibility to ensure you have legal permission to be in the UK and the UK immigration department is strict on this issue.
The eligibility criteria rest on the initial requirement that you must physically be in the UK in order to apply for Further Leave to Remain. You must have temporary permission to stay in the UK issued by a British Consulate overseas in the form of an entry clearance as a fiancée or proposed civil partner. Your sponsor is required to demonstrate to the examining Home Office officials that your family have arranged adequate accommodation and can afford to live in the UK without applying for any disbursements of public funds. You must also convince the immigration authorities that your relationship is bona fide and that your marriage or partnership was not entered into solely for the purpose of obtaining an immigration benefit.
Please note that a relatively recent development in the issue of Identity Cards in the UK has affected those applying for further leave to remain under the family category. Since 25th November 2008, foreign nationals applying to extend their temporary fiancée and civil partnership visas have been required to gain a compulsory identity card, a form of biometric immigration document. Therefore, you will need to provide ‘biometric’ information as part of the application process. This biometric information consists of scans of all 10 of your fingers and a full-face digital photograph.
You can apply at one of the UK Home Office’s five public enquiry offices (in Croydon, Birmingham, Glasgow, Liverpool and Sheffield), or by making a postal application. The benefit of applying in person is that your application is usually 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 two months to be processed by the UK Home Office, so you must allow adequate time for a decision to be made, however, as long as you apply at least a day before your initial leave expires, you are allowed to remain in the UK until a decision is reached.