Marriage in the UK for persons with a Limited Leave to Remain

This page is intended for those who wish to marry in the UK, and none of the applicants has permanent residence status or British citizenship. 

This category includes, for example, persons who are in the UK on one of the limited visa categories, be it short-term or long-term category.

Marriage between two foreign nationals can be concluded in any registration office (Register Office) of the UK or in a church or embassy.

A. Marriage concluded in the church

A couple can get married in a church. In the UK, this can be done in the Anglican Church in England or Wales. 

As for the possibility of registering a marriage in the Anglican Church in Scotland, it is possible to do this with the Scottish Episcopal Church, which also belongs to the Anglican Church. 

Such marriages will be considered valid by the UK Home Office. 

The UK Home Office does not recognize other types of religious marriages, and such marriages will not be considered valid.

B. Marriage concluded at the embassy of your country

Marriages concluded in the embassies of the respective countries of foreign nationals are accepted and considered to be valid. 

A couple can contact the embassy of their country and find out if they can help to get married or not. Sometimes this is very important, because in the case of marriage at the embassy and depending on the immigration situation of the applicants, they may have a chance to apply to the Home Office for permission to issue a temporary residence permit in the UK.

C. The possibility of marriage with persons who do not have legal status in the UK

According to the general principles of the UK immigration law, it does not matter what immigration status a person who wants to get married has in the UK, and with whom he/she plans to get married (whether with a resident of the UK or with a citizen of the European Union, or with a British citizen himself).

In any case, the marriage can be arranged and concluded in the UK, however, in order to apply for a spousal visa, the applicant who does not have a legal status in the UK or does not have a long-term visa with the right to stay in the country for more than 6 months will have to leave the country and apply for a respective family visa from abroad.

D. Partners of persons with a limited leave to remain in the UK

Some persons temporarily residing in the UK may invite their partners to join/accompany them to the UK. 

As a person dependent on a person who has a limited leave to remain in the UK (for example, on a student or work visa), a partner can get a job or engage in individual entrepreneurial activity during the entire period of his/her residence permit validity (depending on the immigration category of the main visa holder).

Usually applicants receive a visa, whose validity coincides with the validity of the sponsor's visa, and the applicant is expected to leave the country with the sponsor if the sponsor does not intend to settle in the UK.

However, if the sponsor has the opportunity to settle in the UK on a permanent basis and submits an application for this, persons dependent on him can also settle in the UK together with the sponsor as his/her dependents. In this case, the rules concerning victims of domestic violence do not apply.

In view of this, persons residing in the UK on the basis of a limited leave to remain, except for short-term visitor visas or with an illegal stay in the country, can marry in the UK and then bring their partner on a respective dependent visa. Or to conclude such a marriage outside the UK and then immediately apply for a dependent visa for your married partner.

Let's look at a few situations in this regard.

Situation 1. Matej from Canada is in the UK on a student visa and is studying at a British university under the Bachelor's degree program. He has a spouse who lives outside of the UK and wants to join him as a dependent. Based on the current immigration rules, in order for Matej's spouse to be able to apply for a dependent visa, Matej will need to get a student visa to study at least under the Master's or Postgraduate degree program, and until that happens his spouse will only be able to come to the UK on a visitor visa basis.

When Matej has a student visa for a Master's or Postgraduate degree program and his spouse receives a dependent visa under the student visa category, the validity period of her visa will be the same and with the same ending period as Matej's student visa.

And then, depending on their future plans to study or live in the country, they will both be able to either extend their visas to continue their studies, or apply for a Graduate Visa, provided Matej successfully completes his Master's or Postgraduate degree program.

Situation 2. Rashid from India lives in the UK on a Skilled Worker Visa and he has an unmarried partner, Nasrin, living in India. She wants to join him on a dependent visa. Immigration rules allow her to apply for a dependent visa, however, since they do not have a registered marriage, they will need to show that they have lived together at the same address in India, the UK or any other country for the last two years.

Rashid's unmarried partner will initially receive a dependent visa for the same period for which Rashid's work visa will still be valid. 

However, in this case, Rashid will be able to apply for permanent residence first, since he will reach the 5-year period of residence in the country on a work visa faster, and for his unmarried partner it will be necessary to extend her visa for several more years until she herself has lived five years on a dependent partner visa.

Situation 3. Adam from Israel has been living in the UK on a visa of the Sole Representative of an Overseas Company for several years. He has a girlfriend Sarah, with whom he is in a relationship, but without a registered marriage. He wants to bring her on a dependent visa and is not sure whether he should register the marriage officially or submit a visa application as unmarried partners.

Adam and Sarah can get married both in the UK and abroad and then she will be able to apply for a dependent partner visa based on the visa category of Adam. Or, if they do not register the marriage, they will need to show that they have lived together at the same address in any other country for the last two years. And further, just as in the case of Rashid in situation 2, Adam will be able to apply for permanent residence first, since he will reach the 5-year period of residence in the country on a visa of the Sole Representative of an Overseas Company faster, and for his wife Sarah it will be necessary to extend her visa for several more years until she herself has lived five years on a dependent partner visa.

Situation 4. Maria is a Spanish citizen, and she lives in the UK on the basis of her Pre-Settled status issued under the EU Settlement Scheme. She has a husband, Shalom, an Israeli citizen who now lives outside the UK.  She wants to bring him on a dependent partner visa and live together with him in the UK.

According to the current immigration rules, an important moment is whether their marriage was registered before or after 31 December 2020. If before the above date, Shalom will be able to apply for a Family Permit visa under the EU Settlement Scheme according to European immigration rules under a simplified scheme. 

If, however, their marriage was concluded after 31 December 2020, then Shalom will be able to apply for a spouse visa according to standard British immigration rules, according to which, among other things, certain financial requirements must be met and Shalom also must show the necessary level of English language proficiency.

Situation 5. Yakiko from Japan is residing in the UK on the basis of a Youth Mobility Visa for some time. He has a spouse Yua living in Japan. He wants to bring her to the UK on a dependent partner visa.

Unfortunately, Youth Mobility Visa does not allow the main applicant to bring in his dependent partner and children. That means that either his spouse Yua will have to apply for a Youth Mobility Visa separately by herself, or she will need to wait until Yakiko finds a UK employer willing to employ him on the Skilled Worker Visa and which would then allow Yua to apply for a dependent partner visa based on the Skilled Worker Visa of her husband.

Our services

We offer the following services provided by highly qualified immigration specialists of our company:

  • Preparation of an immigration application for obtaining the necessary visa category, consulting on the application procedure;
  • Detailed consultation on the necessary evidentiary documents;
  • Assistance in extending the visa of a dependent spouse or unmarried partner;
  • Preparation of necessary documents for obtaining permanent residence and naturalization;
  • Processing of dependent visas for the applicant's children;
  • Appeals in case of refusal.

In any case, our task is to help you. 

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