I’ve received many requests to write about my experience and advice in getting a UK Fiance Visa in the Philippines, so here is the first of a series of blog posts about this topic.
***UPDATE! UPDATE! AFTER READING THIS POST, PLEASE SEE: http://upraisedliving.com/expat-life/new-rules-for-uk-settlement-visa-application/
Disclaimer: This is my experience in applying for a UK Fiance visa or a UK Marriage visa. Our circumstances may vary, so please don’t take my tips and advice as gospel truth. I have done a fair amount of research to be able to go through the process but please do yours as well. Again, THIS IS NOT OFFICIAL ADVICE, THIS IS JUST A MEANS FOR ME TO SHARE MY EXPERIENCES, SO PLEASE DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH AND TRUST YOUR OWN INSTINCTS.
There are many reasons why it has taken me this long to start writing about this. As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs I just got married and had to plan a wedding in less than a month, so that took a lot of my attention and time. There’s also the matter of adjusting to my new home. However, I think the main reason that I haven’t gotten around it is because in all honesty, applying for my fiance visa was an emotional whirlwind. I found it hard to know where to begin with sharing my experience, and even more so, organizing my advice about it.
So I will go about discussing my advice in 4 posts. This is the first one, which will be talking about my personal experience. The following will be specific FAQ’sand a checklist of requirements. Please feel free to ask questions if you feel we have similar circumstances, as I would probably be able to provide first hand advice. If I don’t, I’ll try to direct you to other sources on the internet.
Okay. Let’s begin.
It all began with a YES!
Andrew proposed to me on Easter last year, just a few days before I had to go home to Manila from my visit to London. I wrote about it in this post about getting a UK Visitor Visa. I was there for 5 months to meet his family and friends and also for us to explore the prospect of living under the same roof. We, fortunately, loved it and realised that we want to be in each other’s lives for the long haul. At this point, we have been in a relationship for over a year and a half.
We decided that we wanted to get married in the UK to avoid issues. We have heard of couples (particularly of half Filipino couples married in the Philippines or anywhere outside the UK) having a more difficult time getting a visa. There are stories of couples having to come back to the Philippines anyway to get more requirements, or getting married only to find out that they have to part again for another period of time because getting a spouse visa was a longer and more difficult process. We honestly don’t know the full truth behind this. We don’t know whether it is because the UK government find marriages outside of the UK suspicious or that they tend to find more marriages of convenience in a third world country so they ask more requirements from them. In truth, we only chose this visa route because we didn’t want to risk it. We wanted to get the message across to the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) department that “Hey, we are REALLY in love! This isn’t fake, we really love each other and can’t wait to start our lives together!” without making them suspect that we were in a rush or too excited to do it. This is, pretty much, visa application poker: lose your cool and you lose it all.
Andrew and I decided that a small wedding in the UK when I get back will be best, and then maybe a celebration in Manila later on after all the visa palaver is out of the way. I came home to Manila, secretly engaged, and looking forward to getting the paperwork done and sorted so I can be with my husband-to-be again and we can get on with our happily ever after. Sounded easy. I was wrong.
Mix Ups : Definition of Terms – UK Fiance Visa / UK Marriage Visa
I came back to Manila and immediately started doing my research. I started with the UK immigration website. First issue: there is no such thing as a UK FIANCE VISA. The term “fiance visa” just does not exist on the website. There’s a Marriage Visitor Visa, a Family of a Settled Person Visa, and a visa that will let you Remain in the UK with your Husband. So my first question: which visa do I need?
To shed light on this matter, let me share with you the differences among the three. A Marriage Visitor Visa is a visitor visa awarded to people who only intend to get married in the UK but not reside there after the wedding. This is for an applicant who is outside of the UK and wants to live outside the UK after getting married, for example, a couple who wants to live in the Philippines or elsewhere in the world but wants to get heir marriage registered in the UK. A Family of a Settled Person Visa, a kind of settlement visa, is a 6 month visa for an applicant who is outside the UK but wants to get married in the UK and then reside there later on by switching to another form of visa, the FLR M, which will allow you to Remain in the UK with your Husband. You can only apply for the FLR M when you are already married and living with your partner in the UK.
Understanding these differences and our plans, I will have to get a family of a settled person visa. However, when you go into the online application form there are entirely different terms being used. The online application form also did not have any specific guidelines and definitions of terms. In it, you will be asked what your reason for visiting is. The word “marriage” will not be in the options. You’d even expect to see the phrase “family of settled person” or “join family in UK” in there, but they won’t be. Let me just help you out so you don’t make the same mistake as I did.
If you are planning to get married in the UK and then plan to reside there with your husband/wife after, here is what you need to fill out.
Reason for Visit: Settlement (Not visit)
Visa Type: Settlement (if there’s an option here that says “marriage” you are in the wrong visa type, pal.)
Visa Sub Type: MARRIAGE (This part can get confusing as you think you might fit 2-3 more options here)
Instead of the word “Marriage” under Visa Sub Type I picked the term “Proposed Civil Partner” thinking that my husband and I are planning to have a civil wedding.It sounds silly now, but I swear to God it sounded perfectly logical then. In the Philippines, a “civil partnership” is a wedding officiated in front of a judge. I forgot that this is more commonly referred to as a ceremony for same-sex couples. My bad.
Because of this, when it came to submitting the application on September 2015, I was told that I filled up the visa sub-category incorrectly and that I had the option of submitting it with the error in the document or refunding my application and lodging another one. To be safe, I decided to go with the second option. This small mistake cost us a fair amount of delays and a few big decisions to make.