Home > Citizenship > Marrying a UK Citizen

Marrying a UK Citizen

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 20 Jan 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Marrying A Uk Citizen

Marrying a UK citizen will generally entitle a foreign national to live and work in the UK. However, this entitlement is not automatic and there is certainly no immediate entitlement to citizenship for a foreign spouse.

Marriage Visas

Foreign spouses of UK citizens must apply for a marriage visa before coming to the UK. If the couple has been together for at least four years, and the foreign spouse passes the Life in the UK citizenship test, they will be granted indefinite leave to remain. Where couples have been married for less than four years the foreign spouse will be granted leave to remain in the UK for an initial two-year period. If the couple is still together after two years the foreign spouse is likely to be granted indefinite leave to remain and, thereby, becomes a permanent resident of the UK.

However, there are additional requirements that have to be met before a foreign national can obtain leave to remain in the UK by marrying a UK citizen:

  • The foreign spouse must have obtained entry clearance before coming to the UK;
  • The couple must have met each other;
  • The couple must intend to live together in the UK;
  • The UK citizen must be able to support his/her foreign spouse, and any dependents, without having to rely on public funds and the foreign spouse must have somewhere suitable to live in the UK.
Once the foreign spouse has lived in the UK for three years they are likely to be eligible to apply for UK citizenship.

Foreign nationals who wish to come to the UK to marry a British citizen may be granted an initial six month visa during which time they should marry and make a fresh application for leave to remain as a spouse. Foreign nationals who are in the UK on a visitor’s visa may not usually transfer this to a marriage visa.

New restrictions have been imposed because some foreign nationals marry British citizens, or residents, purely so that they will be granted leave to remain in the UK and subsequently be in a position to apply for citizenship. To reduce the incidence of foreign nationals marrying UK citizens to obtain leave to remain, people who are subject to immigration control may have to obtain a Certificate of Approval of marriage from the Home Office before they are permitted to marry in the UK.

Forced Marriages Involving British Citizens

In recent years growing concerns have been voiced on the subject of foreign nationals marrying UK citizens in forced marriages. Typically these involve male British citizens going abroad and marrying a foreign national who he may not previously have met and then bringing her back to live in the UK. In many cases at least one member of the couple will not have been aware that they were to be married. Girls may be plucked out of a village, unable to speak English and with absolutely no knowledge of UK life, and brought to live in a foreign country with a complete stranger.

The British government has made it a stated intention, through its Forced Marriage Unit, to reduce the number of forced marriages involving British citizens. One of the main tools they will use is to raise, from 18 to 21, the age at which someone can apply for a marriage visa. Anyone sponsoring a marriage visa will also have to declare an intention to marry overseas before leaving the UK.

Further new rules for foreign nationals marrying UK citizens will include requiring the foreign national to agree, before they come to the UK, to learn English after they arrive. If it is discovered that a foreign national has misused the marriage visa system their leave to remain in the UK may be removed. The UK Border Agency will be given greater powers to deal with those who abuse the system and more guidance in spotting possible victims of forced marriages.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
Im getting married with my partner in the UK, he is British, im not, im American, i was reading the gov.uk website about the MARRIAGE Visa, and quotes -if you're not planning to live in the UK-, so whats the alternative? i want to join him to stay in London. Many Thanks.
GS - 20-Jan-17 @ 3:51 AM
I have a daughter who was born outside, the UK, I was born in the UK, and hold a British passport, can I register my daughter, and can she hold a British passport, and will she have British citizenship, also me and my daughter mother plan to marry, do we have to do this in Ghana or do we need to do this in the UK, we have been together, 5 year's,we want us all too live in the UK as a family, what are my rights and there's please advise me thank you
Kawsi - 18-Jan-17 @ 10:40 PM
Inna - Your Question:
Hello! I am in UK on Visitors visa, passport is from outside the EEU. About to marry a UK citizen during the holiday in Australia. Should I go back to my mother country first to register, change my passport and apply for Spouse Visa, or I can enter and stay in UK on my Visitors Visa for some time? Is there a dead line to register marriage in UK? When it is registered in UK do they use the date from the Marriage Certificate?Thank you for your help.

Our Response:
You can stay in the UK on your visitor's visa still. However, you would have to apply for your spouse visa from outside the UK.
AboutImmigration - 17-Jan-17 @ 12:30 PM
Hello! I am in UK on Visitors visa, passport is from outside the EEU. About to marry a UK citizen during the holiday in Australia. Should I go back to my mother country first to register, change my passport and apply for Spouse Visa, or I can enter and stay in UK on my Visitors Visa for some time? Is there a dead line to register marriage in UK? When it is registered in UK do they use the date from the Marriage Certificate? Thank you for your help.
Inna - 16-Jan-17 @ 5:53 PM
Munchie - Your Question:
My spouse and I are together for almost 3 years and are planning to get married later this year, we both are Jamaicans by birth, but he has been living there for years and has legal status, I also have an 8 year old son to which I want to know if after we get married is it possible he can file for me and my son at the same time? I am currently living in Jamaica as we speak. Want to know as I would love to migrate with my son as well too. Thanks in advance.

Our Response:
Please see gov.uk link here which outlines what requirements your husband and you will need in order to fulfil the pre-requisites. You would apply for your child at the same form.
AboutImmigration - 16-Jan-17 @ 12:06 PM
My spouse and I are together for almost 3 years and are planning to get married later this year, we both are Jamaicans by birth, but he has been living there for years and has legal status, I also have an 8 year old son to which I want to know if after we get married is it possible he can file for me and my son at the same time? I am currently living in Jamaica as we speak. Want to know as I would love to migrate with my son as well too. Thanks in advance.
Munchie - 15-Jan-17 @ 3:47 PM
Sopn - Your Question:
My partner (British citizen) and I want to get married in the UK as it is illegal to do so in our country. How can we make this work? And which route is faster for me to be able to stay, live and work there once married? What process should we take?

Our Response:
Please see gov.uk link here regarding marrying in the UK and link here which is the requirements you and your partner need to meet in order for you to be able to come to live in the UK. If you wish to apply for this 'spouse' visa, even if you marry in the UK, you would have to leave the UK at per the terms of the marriage visa and apply for a spouse visa from your own country.
AboutImmigration - 13-Jan-17 @ 2:31 PM
My partner (British citizen) and I want to get married in the UK as it is illegal to do so in our country. How can we make this work? And which route is faster for me to be able to stay, live and work there once married? What process should we take?
Sopn - 12-Jan-17 @ 11:53 PM
My daughter married a Nigerian who had seemed like a very nice person and we were all taken in by him.Three weeks into the marriage he was running around with other women (one who turned out to be a polish female whom he had been seeing previously).He would constantly fight with her on the Friday and leave and come back the following Monday.After a while of this she eventually left, they have two children and when my daughter wanted a divorce he got her to say she committed adultery so that he wouldn't be put out of the country (making my daughter feel guilty if she didn't because the children wouldn't get to see him again). After a while he asked my daughter to move back near him so that he could help her out more with the children; and against everything the family warned her about she went.. the house she was moving to had fallen through and he said they could stay there for a while - he then threw her and the children out and they had to go to a women's refuge for help, he turned up there after tricking the daughter into telling him where they were and my daughter then got moved on to another refuge. My daughter gave him the children at the weekend for a couple of days (the youngest has never lived with him and the oldest doesn't like being there for too long and always wants her mum to stay too but this time my daughter convinced her she would only be there a couple of days). I have just found out he is keeping the children and is refusing to let my daughter see them. He is going for full custody and we know that he is in the process of renewing his visa and I think he must have been planning this all along as a way to stay in the U.K.What can we do as the police are saying they can't do anything because they both have parental rights.
Happy - 10-Jan-17 @ 8:38 PM
I am a Trinidadian engaged to a UK Citizen how do i get my papers to work and live in the UK and how long does it take ?
Applez - 10-Jan-17 @ 2:39 PM
Hebe - Your Question:
I am a UK citizen and my boyfriend is in Brazil. We'd like to get married and for him to live here with me.What is the best way to do this? Can he come here on a visitor visa and then we get married and apply for a spouse visa or should he come here with a fiancé visa and then we apply for spouse visa?

Our Response:
Regardless of whether your boyfriend comes in to the UK, he still has to apply from outside of the UK for a spouse visa, please see link here.
AboutImmigration - 10-Jan-17 @ 10:43 AM
Nushy - Your Question:
Hello,I'm Mauritian and my boyfriend is originally from Pakistan but he's in the Uk for 8 years.He got his indefinite leave and got his own business. So what are the procedures that needed for me to get in the UK. We want to get married and settle down! I want to be with him in the UK. What papers does he need? Any kind of help would be appreciated! Thank you very much

Our Response:
Please see gov.uk link here. You/your boyfriend would have to satisfy all the requirements laid out in the article in order for you to be able to apply.
AboutImmigration - 10-Jan-17 @ 10:34 AM
Hi, I am an EU national married to a British citizen. we have been married for 11 years and I have lived in the UK for past 14 years. unfortunately as I have been a stay at home parent, I have not been fulfilling treaty rights and do not qualify for a permanent resident status. my husband can't be my sponsor as he is British and I can't apply for Indefinite leave to remain as I am from EU. do I need to worry about being deported?
missP - 9-Jan-17 @ 2:11 PM
I am a UK citizen and my boyfriend is in Brazil. We'd like to get married and for him to live here with me. What is the best way to do this? Can he come here on a visitor visa and then we get married and apply for a spouse visa or should he come here with a fiancé visa and then we apply for spouse visa?
Hebe - 9-Jan-17 @ 12:49 PM
Hello,I'm Mauritian and my boyfriend is originally from Pakistan but he's in the Uk for 8 years .He got his indefinite leave and got his own business. So what are the procedures that needed for me to get in the UK. We want to get married and settle down! i want to be with him in the UK . What papers does he need? Any kind of help would be appreciated! Thank you very much
Nushy - 9-Jan-17 @ 12:46 PM
I am an Australian citizen living in the U.K. On a working visa which expires in September. I have been dating a U.K. National on and off for the past year and we are looking to marry in July. He has a house and earns enough to qualify but we are worried our situation will be an issue. Will I be eligible for the spouse visa following the end of my working visa or will I have to return to Australia?
TeachOz - 5-Jan-17 @ 2:11 AM
My partner is a British citizen, I am from the US. We met while teaching English abroad and are trying to find a way to return to the UK together (we are both currently under contract at that job), but he probably will be furthering his education for about a year before he is able to get a salary that will satisfy the financial requirement. I also intend to further my education there but I'm extremely concerned I won't gain entry to a UK uni due to the systems being very different (or there not just being enough spaces in the programs that I'm interested in... and the fact that I wasn't a top student). I want to know if there's any alternative way for me to join him in the UK if I'm unable to enter graduate school there, and if I do manage to get into a postgrad program how will changing my visa work? Will we need to get married immediately after I obtain my MA? Will I apply for a fiance visa first and then a spousal visa or should I just apply for a spousal visa as soon as I graduate and he gets a job? The prospect of a long distance relationship if I don't manage to move to the UK or somewhere nearby in another European country sounds a bit scary, this financial requirement is a big hurdle for us as we are just returning from living abroad, and he also needs to further his education in order to pursue the career he wants.
Aura - 1-Jan-17 @ 2:13 PM
My partner and I have been in a relationship for a year...and are planning to be married in the next two years...getting a residency/partner visa for him in the Untited States is much different...we want to live in the UK, as his parents are elderly and we would like to be close...he is gainfully employed and owns a home...i would work online...trying to sort the most effecient way to go about this...we are both in our 40's and have no dependents...any help about the process and the easiest way to go about it would be greatly appreciated!Thank you!
Jerin - 31-Dec-16 @ 5:20 AM
Does the Home Office know how spouses are previously related? I mean if I marry my mothers sister who lives in pakistan, how will the Home office know if she's related to me? I want to marry her ONLY for her to receive citizenship. If this is possible without the home office knowing our blood relation, I want to open my case with you please.
Hassan - 30-Dec-16 @ 7:11 PM
My grandaughter wa nurse worked in UKhospital.Her contract expires now, her boyfriend wants to marry her and dont go home anymore to her place of origen.What are the requirements?
linda - 29-Dec-16 @ 7:56 PM
I am a 64 year old South African who was married in England in 1988 to a UK citizen. My husband and I returned to South Africa in 1995 with our then two small children who were both born in London. They both returned to England after university and are now employed as a teacher and a social worker. Having lived and worked in the UK for many years I never applied for citizenship as at that time it did not seem necessary, whereas now I would like to visit my children and spend time with them. Can I apply for citizenship now and what would the conditions be? thank you.
Debi - 28-Dec-16 @ 11:36 PM
Hi. I'm a Croatian citizen, living in Croatia. My boyfriend is a British citizen and lives in UK. He is older than me, I am 17. We both want me to move to UK. Since I am not 18 yet, what do I have to do to get the permission to move to U.K.? What documents do I need? And is there any way I can move to U.K. if I'm not 18 yet?
luko7 - 28-Dec-16 @ 12:09 PM
Hi I'm a South African man who has been living in the U.K. For 8 years (two ancestral visas) I've recently got engaged and to a British woman and we are expecting our first child in march. We have a mortgage together and both work full time. I'm really not sure what my options are for staying in the uk or where to start without it costing me an absolute fortune. Any help would be appreciated thanks
Jad - 27-Dec-16 @ 10:44 AM
Hi there, I'm a British citizen and I want to marry a man who's a Yemeni citizen but he works In Saudi. I wanted to know how this is possible and is it possible to make him a British citizen while he works in Saudi
Sue - 25-Dec-16 @ 5:09 PM
olamide- Your Question:
My name is olamide.I am a british citizen.I ve been living in nigeria since I was 5 years old when I came back from abroad with my parents.I had my primary,secondary and tertiary education in nigeria.I am married to a nigerian guy for 8 yrs now and we have 2 kids.I started working in 2009 as a civil servant in nigeria till date.if I decide to travel to uk with my kids.what is the most like period I hav to wait for my husband to join me in uk and what visa will my husband apply for.

Our Response:
Please see gov.uk link here which will answer your questions.
AboutImmigration - 21-Dec-16 @ 12:49 PM
olamide - Your Question:
I m a british citizen living and as well working in nigeria.I ve been married to a nigerian guy for 8 years now and we have two boys. Though we v gotten a british passport for our first son but we v not gotten a british pssport for the other one.if I as a british citizen still prefer working in nigeria for now.Is it possible for my husband and the kids to travel to the uk without me.And what kind of visa will my husband apply for.

Our Response:
The only way your husband can travel to the UK is on a visitor visa. However, he will not be able to work, unless he can apply independently for a working visa. If you wish to apply for British citizenship for your second son, please see link here.
AboutImmigration - 21-Dec-16 @ 12:45 PM
I noticed that their are many British born e.g british nationality, british citizenship, british dependent territories citizen, british overseas citizen e.t.c I wasborn on 1st Oct. 1980, 5 years oldI left UKwith my parents to Nigeria .I had my primary,secondary and tertiary education in Nigeria. So what British catigories will someone like be ? And my Two children born in Nigeria ? Bless u
jamal - 21-Dec-16 @ 8:37 AM
My name is olamide.I am a british citizen.I ve been living in nigeria since I was 5 years old when I came back from abroad with my parents.I had my primary,secondary and tertiary education in nigeria.I am married to a nigerian guy for 8 yrs now and we have 2 kids.I started working in 2009 as a civil servant in nigeria till date.if I decide to travel to uk with my kids..what is the most like period I hav to wait for my husband to join me in uk and what visa will my husband apply for.
olamide - 20-Dec-16 @ 9:33 PM
I m a british citizen living and as well working in nigeria.I ve beenmarried to a nigerian guy for 8 years now and we have two boys. Though we v gotten a british passport for our first son but we v not gotten a british pssport for the other one.if I as a british citizen still prefer working in nigeria for now.Is it possible for my husband and the kids to travel to the uk without me.And what kind of visa will my husband apply for.
olamide - 20-Dec-16 @ 9:04 PM
My daughter is engaged to a tunisian guy she is marrying him in 2 years time does she need to have permission from a register office in the UK to marry him in Tunisia so that she can bring him back to the UK with her or is a time limit she has to be in Tunisia before a marriage ceremony thanks
kay yafai - 18-Dec-16 @ 7:35 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the AboutImmigration website. Please read our Disclaimer.