Weddings are exciting prospects, although they can be nerve-wracking with all of the planning that needs to go into getting a venue, wedding dress, suits, catering and accommodation for your guests. If you’re planning a destination wedding, it can be even more complicated to get your marriage permit and the appropriate visas for all of your guests.
If you and your fiancé(e) are both British citizens, you won’t need to get a marriage visa, but if some of your guests are coming from foreign countries, they’ll need to get the right visas to attend your wedding. Let’s take a look at how to get visas for a UK wedding.
Can You Get a Visa to Attend a Wedding in the UK?
Whether you’re a family member or friend, to attend a wedding in the UK, all you need is a Standard Visitor visa. Standard Visitor visas are given for up to 6 months, so while the vast majority of weddings don’t last more than a day, and even the longest weddings like traditional southern Indian weddings only usually last a week at most, the Standard Visitor visa is more than enough to cover the length of your stay in the UK for a wedding.
When you apply for this visa, you should indicate the reason for your visit to the UK and provide sufficient evidence to support your application. You don’t need too much evidence to suggest you will attend a wedding, however, you must provide sufficient evidence to prove you will be a visitor and not intend to stay in the UK.
Evidence to visit the UK should include:
- Travel tickets including onward journey
- Proof of suitable accommodation such as hotel reservations
- Proof of sufficient finances to cover your stay such as bank statements
To support your application to attend a wedding, you can also provide:
- Birth certificates to indicate your familial relationship
- Wedding invitation with the location, date and time
- Group hotel bookings with the other guests
If you will also be attending a stag do or hen do in the UK to celebrate the engagement with the bride or groom, an invitation letter from the wedding party can help your application as well as evidence of any bookings that have been made.
Who Can Get Married in the UK?
If you and your partner are already in the UK on a visa that lasts more than 6 months or have residency or citizenship that grants you indefinite leave to remain in the UK, you do not need a visa to get married or enter a civil partnership in the UK.
Marriage Visitor visas are for people who intend to visit the UK to get married or enter a civil partnership and leave within 6 months. They cannot bring family members with them, their family members must apply for Standard Visitor visas to attend the wedding in the UK. They must also not work or study in the UK, stay more than 6 months or switch to another visa from the UK.
You must arrange your wedding at a certified location and apply for your marriage visa no more than 3 months before you intend to come to the UK. When you apply, you’ll need to attend an appointment at a visa application centre, which may hold your passport and documents while they process your application, and pay the £115 application fee. A decision will usually be made within 3 weeks.
You must provide evidence that:
- You’re over 18
- You’re not married or in a civil partnership already
- Your relationship is genuine
- You will leave the UK within six months
- You have sufficient funds to support yourself for your trip to the UK and to leave
If you wish to have your honeymoon in the UK or do any other activities in the UK other than getting married, you need to provide evidence of your plans in the UK, including sufficient funds to cover them.
Family Visas: Who is Eligible?
To attend a wedding ceremony, your foreign guests may apply for a Standard Visitor visa, however, if you wish to bring close relatives to stay with you in the UK for more than 6 months, they will need to apply for a Family Visa. They cannot switch from a visitor visa to a Family visa; they must leave the country and apply from abroad.
Family visas include:
- Partner or Spouse visa
- Parent visa
- Child Dependent visa
- Adult Dependent Relative visa
Adult Dependant Relative visas are for family members who require care from their relative in the UK due to a long-term health condition that means they cannot live independently nor access appropriate healthcare in their home country. This visa is only applicable to:
- Parents aged 18 years or over
- Brothers and sisters aged 18 years or over
- Sons and daughters aged 18 years or over
Therefore, you can only bring your immediate relatives to the UK on a Family visa, you cannot bring cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces or nephews.
Each eligible family member must meet several other eligibility requirements and provide documents to support their application when applying for a Family visa online.
Who Can Bring Family to the UK?
To be able to sponsor a family member to the UK on a Family visa, you need to have either:
- Irish or British citizenship
- Permanent residency or settled status
- Protected status
- Turkish Businessperson visa or Turkish Worker visa
You must also have suitable accommodation for your family member to join you on their Family visa, which you can show by writing an invitation letter to the Home Office or the applicant to support their application. If the applicant doesn’t have sufficient funds to join you in the UK, you can also provide evidence that you have enough finances to cover your and your family members’ costs while they are with you in the UK.
Family Visa: Your Rights in the UK
Applications for UK visas must be submitted online by the applicant; you cannot request a visa for a family member. If you have paid the application fee and submitted your application and supporting documents, the Home Office will review your application within 24 weeks.
If your application for a Family visa has been successful, you will need to attend an appointment at your nearest embassy to provide your biometric information i.e. photos and fingerprints.
Once you have been granted your Family visa, you may enter the UK, pick up your permit and live, work and study with no restrictions for the duration of your visa. First applications are usually given for up to 2 years and 9 months and can be extended, usually for a further 2 years and 6 months. You can renew your family visa again once your second permit is near expiry, or apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) to permanently stay in the UK.
When You Can Apply for Permanent Residency
You can apply for permanent residency, also known as settlement or ILR, after 5 years of living in the UK in most cases. However, you can apply after two or three years if you have certain work permits. Even though certain postgraduate students can bring some family members to the UK with them, this is not considered a valid visa to then apply for permanent residency.
If you lived in the UK partly on a visa that was granted for less than 6 months, this time in the UK does not count towards your overall time in the UK for when you apply for permanent residency.
After one year with ILR, you are also eligible to apply for British citizenship. Citizenship allows you to vote in UK parliamentary elections as well as claim public funds and apply for a British passport. Some countries do not allow dual nationality so check what rights to citizenship you would lose in your country of origin before applying for citizenship in the UK.
Contact Synergy Immigration Solutions for Your Visa Needs!
If you need help getting a visa for you or your loved ones to come to the UK, Synergy Immigration Solutions is here for you! Contact us today to learn how we can help with your UK visa application.