fiance visa

UK Spouse Visa vs. Fiance Visa

fiance visa

What are the differences between a UK Spouse Visa and a UK Fiancé(e) Visa?  Right away I can tell you one thing they do have in common: both are a pain in the arse to obtain because of all the paperwork required for the application.

Simply put, a Fiancé(e) Visa is for those looking to get married in the UK, whereas if you were already married, then you would need a Spouse Visa.  Both are for those who intend to move to the UK permanently.

My husband and I decided to marry in Malaysia first, and I’ll tell you my reasons.

The UK Visa Journey (Simplified) following the new rules starting 9 July 2012.

UK Fiancé(e) Visa UK Spouse Visa
  • A Fiancé(e) Visa gives you 6 months to get married in the UK. £826
  • Once married, you need Further Leave to Remain (FLR) for 30 months. £561 in person / 867 by post
  • After 30 months, you need another FLR for another 30 months. £561 / 867
  • After 5 years, you can apply for settlement or Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). £991 in person / 1,377 by post
  • A Spouse Visa gives you 33 months to stay in the UK. £826
  • After 33 months, you need FLR for 30 months. £561 in person / 867 by post
  • After 5 years, you can apply for settlement or ILR. £991 in person / 1,377 by post

   * Fees correct at the time of publishing.

As you can see, a UK Fiancé(e) Visa is a longer and more costly route to ILR.  It takes an extra round of applications and costs an additional £561 or £867.  For me this translates to a bigger headache and a smaller bank account, conditions I prefer to avoid.

Of course, I realise that I’m simplifying things and visa matters are anything but simple.  Every couple’s situation is different.  For us, it made more sense to get married in Malaysia because getting married in Malaysia to a British national is quite easy.  The rules in another country are probably different, so take that into consideration.

If money is not an issue for you, there’s still the hassle of figuring out what documents are necessary for your application, preparing them, and finally submitting the application.

You can go through an agent, although the UKBA actually states you should be able to put together everything on your own, and warns against agents who promise you a successful application.  Remember: no one can guarantee a successful application.  I submitted my application on my own without an agent.

Having said that, the agency to which you submit your application in your respective country might be able to offer assistance.  VFS Global in Malaysia had officers going through my documents before submission, but even then they might not be 100% correct because the ultimate decision-makers are the UK Border Agency officers.

You need to do a lot of reading to prepare for your application.  The UKVI website is very comprehensive and contains much of the information you need.  Another excellent resource is the Expat Forum — a community for those going through the same thing, many of whom are happy to share their experiences with you.

Good luck!

PS: You don’t need the UK Fiancé(e) or Spouse Visas if you’re: 1) a national of a European Economic Area country or Switzerland; 2) the non-European family member of an EEA or Swiss national; or 3) a British overseas territories citizen.

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20 Comments

  1. Hi Li-San, would we be able to communicate through via email? I am kinda in a similar condition but with a twist. Let me know and I will provide my email to you.
    By the way, thank you so much for sharing your story. I feel so relief now. ;)

  2. You can also just apply for the 6 month visitor visa for marriage, it only costs £80 and at least you get 6 months together before having to leave the UK, sort the other crap out at a later date :-)

  3. Hi Li San, I’m going to apply for my spouse visa as well. I intend to submit the original and a copy of documents required for the application (eg husband’s UK passport, UK marriage certificate, degree certificate etc) but do these copies also need to be certified? Your input here would be much appreciated, thanks!

    • Hi. When I applied I was under the impression that certified copies were good enough, BUT the officer at VFS (http://www.vfs-uk-my.com/) wouldn’t accept them unless they were originals. To clarify, they wanted originals of the marriage certificate, my degree, bank statements, etc. The only certified copy accepted was my husband’s UK passport.

      Hope this helps!

  4. Hi Li San, I’m currently applying for settlement visa from Malaysia. However my case is different than yours, it’s proposed civil partnership visa (it’s a marriage visa equivalent for same-sex). I’m well aware of the age restriction for this application, but do you have any idea about the limitation for age gap / age between partners?

    Liang

  5. Hi! Would it be possible to email you as well? Have a lot of questions about the exact same thing :”( Can’t really find anywhere/anyone to share their insights and experiences…

  6. Hello Li San,

    Thank you for sharing… Can I also have your personal email address? I am also going to apply for the Spouse Visa as my husband doesn’t want to live here anymore (we are currently in Malaysia).

    Thank you.

    Best regards,
    LC

  7. Hi Li San,

    I hope you don’t mind but it would truly be great for us to communicate via email if it isn’t too much to ask…

    Thank you so much!

    Truly,
    LM

  8. Hi Li San
    I’m also going to be applying for a spouse visa to the UK soon. Would it be possible to get your email address for me to ask you some questions? The process is so stressful! Or perhaps, if they agree, you could put me in touch with someone who applied for the visa more recently? Thank you!!!

  9. Hi Li San
    I am presently living in Italy and holds a residence card or Permesso di Soggiorno in Motivi Familiari, because my sister is an EU citizen. Is it the same as residence card indicating a family member of an EU citizen ? And I would like to know if me and my British boyfriend get married here in Italy,,, what kind of visa should I apply to live with him in UK permanently ?

  10. Hi Li San,

    Would like to ask you is the marriage visitor visa (https://www.gov.uk/marriage-visa) the same as fiance visa that you mentioned? I noticed the following:

    1. Marriage Visitor Visa costs £85 pound to apply and valid for 6 months. It also says that I need to prove to leave after that.

    2. However, on this site for visa to remain in uk(https://www.gov.uk/remain-in-uk-family/eligibility) stated that “You can apply to extend or switch in any of these routes if you’re eligible, except if you have permission to be in the UK for less than 6 months – unless you got your visa to get married or become civil partners or you got your visa to wait for the outcome of a family court or divorce”. My confusion here is ‘unless you got your visa to get married’ – is this the marriage visitor visa? If it is, then which one applies – to leave the country after getting married on the marriage visitor visa or I can switch to visa to remain in uk with family?

    I am not sure if this is the same experience you had back in 2012 when you got married before the regulation changed. Any queries that you are able to assist is much appreciated.

    Thanks & Regards,
    Lim

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