Getting Married in the UK: Fiancé and Spouse Visas

Getting a visa is such a burdensome process. You have to make sure you’re applying for the right one, and then you need to collect all the required documents, which should be complete and correct. The horror of getting your visa denied is real: you’ve lost the visa processing fee (which can be a lot of money), you’ll have to cancel or re-book any flights or hotels you booked early, and, worst of all, you’ll have to tick “yes” to the question, “Have you ever been denied a visa?” in future visa forms.

I moved to Scotland on a Fiancé Visa, also called a Marriage Visa. Currently, I am waiting for my Spouse Visa, also called a Family Visa or a Grant for Further Leave to Remain, to be approved. I think the names of these visas are inaccurate because the government websites don’t really have specific names for them. But for simplicity and clarity, the Fiancé Visa is what I got to come into the U.K. as a fiancé to get married, and the Spouse Visa is what I’m getting to be able to stay in the U.K. after getting married to a British citizen.

Passport with visa and immigration stamps

Fiancé Visa

With the Fiancé Visa (which is apparently classified as a Family Visa as well), you can get married in the U.K. But that’s it. The visa is valid for only 6 months, and you must get married in that time. You have no right to work, and you’re not a resident. The visa I got was a multiple-entry one so I could go in and out of the country multiple times within the validity period.

The process and cost of this visa are different if you’re applying from within or outside the U.K. I applied from the Philippines. If you’re applying from inside the U.K., it’ll be best to look at the Home Office website or get advice from a consultant.

The cost of the Fiancé Visa is £1,523 and it took exactly 2 months for me to get it, although the Home Office website says that you should expect it to arrive in 3 months. You can also pay an extra £956 for a super priority service to get your visa in 24 hours. The website says there is an option to pay £573 for a priority service where you can get your visa in 5 working days, but I don’t think it’s available for all visas just yet.

Type of Service (Outside the UK)TimeFee
Fiancé Visa Basic2 to 3 months£1,523
Priority Service
(not available at the time of writing)
5 working daysBasic +£573
Super Priority Service24 HoursBasic +£956

I wrote about the process I went through here and about the supporting documents I submitted here.

Spouse Visa

Now that I’m married, I need to “extend” my Fiancé Visa by getting a Spouse Visa. A Spouse Visa let’s you live in the U.K. for the next 2.5 years. The application for a Spouse Visa is entirely new and separate from a Fiancé Visa you might already have, so don’t be fooled when the internet says you’re applying for an “extension.” You’ll need to submit this application before your Fiancé Visa expires, although it doesn’t need to have been approved before then.

Since I applied from within the U.K., I paid £1,033 and I expect to get the visa in 2 to 3 months. I could have availed of the 24-hour service and paid an extra £800, but it wasn’t worth it for me (#coronavirus). I didn’t get the option to pay extra for that priority service where I can get the visa in 5 working days, so it may not have been available just yet.

Type of Service (within the UK)TimeFee
Spouse Visa Basic2 to 3 months£1,033
Priority Service
(not available at the time of writing)
5 working daysBasic +£500
Super Priority Service24 HoursBasic +£800

In addition to the application fee, I also paid a Health Surcharge of £1,000. Since having a Spouse Visa means you’ll be a resident, you’ll have access to the National Health Service (NHS). This £1,000 is to basically pay for access to the NHS for the next 2.5 years.

I wrote about the process I went through here.

If my husband and I had already been married before I came into the U.K., I would not have needed to get the Fiancé Visa in the first place. I would have been able to enter the U.K. on a Spouse Visa immediately and we wouldn’t have needed to pay for two visas and go through the process of getting a visa twice.

Why did I get both Fiancé and Spouse visas?

We wanted to get married in Scotland, so we didn’t consider having a ceremony anywhere else. We thought of having a simple civil ceremony in the Philippines and then a proper ceremony in Scotland, but it’s never really very simple to get married in Manila. There’s a lot of red tape, being the only country other than the Vatican where there’s no such thing as divorce. We’d also be compelled (read: morally forced) to hold a sort of party where we would have to invite every person, their mother, all their cousins, and their dogs. This means more time and money spent on planning two parties. Getting two visas seemed easier.

I hope this overview helps! A lot of people have asked me about the visa processes I went through when they found out I got married and moved to Scotland. This is what I typically answer.

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