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|
* 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.
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.