UK Marriage Visa
Marriage is sacred. Marriage is all about love matches. Oh, and money. Also politics, and property. And reproduction, don’t forget reproduction. And ideology. But mostly love. Here is a guide to making sure your lovely papers are in order.
0: Be rich (or start saving)
This revenue-generating exercise will cost well in excess of £3500 and will require multiple days off work while you flagellate yourself with forms and get bludgeoned by bureaucrats.
1: Find Mr/Mrs Right
The state likes neat couplings of birth certificate Ms and Fs. That said, MM and FF couples go through the same official process (but be prepared for unofficial grief). Previous marriages, particularly with visas involved, will also arouse the trolls. Your dream passport-holder will be: single (if not your current partner); trustworthy (as you will need to swap personal financial details); and living in the same vicinity as you for three years. If you ain’t no chump, holla: “We wanna pre-nup! We wanna pre-nup!” Even if both parties are broke as fuck, it is important that finances are legally separated. The Home Office needn’t know about any of your clauses, such as “I will never ask you to stop hooking/drinking…” It will make you both feel more secure.
2: Ask permission (until 9 May 2011)
EU Human Rights Law has intervened and made a remedial order against this requirement, so after 9 May, you will no longer need to gain permission from the Home Office to get married. The down side of this is of course that the government is trying to devise new schemes to expose ‘sham marriages’ (not those acceptable shams that exist for the reproduction of labour, but those that enable free movement of people). Keep an eye on updates.
3: Get to the UK on a visa (tourist visa doesn’t count)
If you don’t already have a visa (education, employment, tier 1, ancestry) then you will have to get an engagement visa. The other option is to get married outside the UK (a Vegas ‘Elvis wedding’ is a good way to allay suspicious minds and avoid being returned to sender). If you do want to get married under the butcher’s apron (Union Jack) and are without a visa, then an engagement visa is your only option. One downside is that you’ll have to go back to the place you’re trying to leave (your home country). It is important to note that you may not be able to get a visa if you don’t have good spoken English. If you’re worried about this – and it is blatant jingoism since the English abroad hardly ever learn the local lingo – it may be better to get the ceremonial package part done outside the UK.
Before the ceremony it’s important to consider the following:
Who is in the know and who is not? Not all people will be understanding of your decision to marry for a visa: some people believe that marriage is a sacred institution, and you having a good reason for your wedding may throw into crisis their patriarchal pantomime. On the other hand, the whole process takes three long years, and being open from the start can avoid messiness later.
Pictures, and other proof of relationship. Inventing your relationship is the fun part. Start taking ‘cool shots’ and writing kinky letters.
Financial ties. Set up shared household bills and a joint bank account. Pay for everything to do with the visa process from the joint account, as well as general purchases, such as your new BDSM equipment (see April’s DIY Guide).
5: The Ceremony
It’s probably best to keep it out of any religious institution. Aside from the creepy imagery, churches often require meetings and formalities before the wedding. Dress for the occasion, and have your story straight:
How did she/he propose? Why don’t you have nice rings to exchange? When and where is your honeymoon?
Check if you can bring your own music, so as to avoid the instrumental version of Robbie Williams’ ‘Angels’.
UK Border Agency | Visas and immigration
6: Apply for a marriage visa (lasts for 2 years)
A few things to include for visa, which aren’t clear on the UKBA website:
Pictures of your relationship: not just of the two of you, but with friends or, even better, family.
A letter from a friend or family member gushing about your happy relationship.
Proof of any employment you might have. It looks good to say that you have things lined up.
Any joint statements, bank accounts, etc. that you may have created.
Have a native speaker proof read the application: the mostly monosyllabic, often mono-lingual, UKBA requires that you speak English in order to move here.
7: Life in the UK
You will have to buy a book called ‘Life in the United Kingdom: A journey to Citizenship’, and memorise a whole lot of pointless shit that no one from Britain knows anyway, such as ‘In what year did Nick Griffin eat his way out of the sewer?’ After that you can go on to apply for your ‘Indefinite leave to remain’, and then…
With the power vested in all of us, we now pronounce you, Migrant and Citizenship!