Switching to a UK Spouse Visa from a UK Fiance Visa

UPDATE! UPDATE! AFTER READING THIS POST, PLEASE SEE: http://upraisedliving.com/expat-life/new-rules-for-uk-settlement-visa-application/

I have just come back from a big holiday, and have so much to write about! However, I owe you lovely people my post on my UK Spouse Visa experience, so before I tell you of my days under the sunshine or anything else…

Congratulations on your recent wedding! Now, I know you guys want to jump on a horse-drawn carriage to happily ever after. Unfortunately, you will have to hold off until you’ve settled the rest of the below. I know I’m being a huge buzz kill, but as I have mentioned on my post about UK partner visas, it is not easy but it is definitely worth it to do things right. 
 
A year into married life and i can definitely say the trouble was worth it! Andrew and I feel far more settled and happy now that all the paperwork is out of the way. I’ve now been working for 6 months, as well. This really gives my life a sense of normalcy, and that definitely helped in planting my roots. Don’t worry, you’ll get there too!
 

As promised, albeit long overdue, this is my post on the UK FLR (M) visa application. I’ve broken it down into a post with FAQ format, as I have done before, to focus on the questions which I feel are more important.

 

pexels-photo-94898
I know you’re ready to just live a normal life as husband and wife now! Just have patience and diligence, this step is easier than it seems. :)

Do I need a Spouse Visa?

  • This post is for people who took the UK fiance visa track, like me, meaning – they applied for a 6 month fiance visa from outside of the UK with the intention to marry within said timeframe and convert their visa to a 2 year spouse visa in order to remain and reside in the UK after the wedding. If this does not sound like you.  Read my guide on UK partner visas here: http://upraisedliving.com/travel/expat-life/uk-partner-visas/.
 

What form do I need to fill up? 

 

Is this when I need to pay the IHS? 

  • Yes, you’re right. Since you are applying to reside in the UK ona 2-year visa, you will be required to set up and pay for your IHS fee. You DO NOT need to pay for the IHS fee if you are on a fiance visa, as you are only allowed to stay in the UK for 6 months on a UK fiance visa. Read more about it here: https://www.gov.uk/healthcare-immigration-application/overview
 

Should I Change My Name on my Passport before applying for a UK Spouse Visa?

  • While it is not required, my suggestion is to allow enough time to get your name changed before applying for your UK visa. This registers your marriage in your home country and allows you to have an easier time with travel, since you will have your married name in your visa card and passport. Otherwise, your BRP will contain your maiden name which is in the passport that you submit with the application. This is purely based on my experience, so may be different for other nationalities. For more information, get in touch with your local embassy.  If you are Filipino like me, read more about it here: http://londonpe.dfa.gov.ph/consular-matters/passport
 

My visa will expire if I decide to change my name!

  • It is a bit tricky. You have to time it so that you are able to get your name changed and then get your application into the UKIE system at least 2 weeks before the visa expires. They will extend your fiance visa while your application is still with UKIE. The problem is that if they decide, for any reason, to deny your application – they will immediately send you home. Therefore, having a buffer for any unexpected hiccups will be a smart move. 

 

 How much is a UK Spouse Visa?

  • It is £811 plus the IHS fee of £500. If you would like to apply in person, you may do so by using a Premium Service Centre and paying a £500 service fee.

 

Should I use Premium Service?

  • If you are running out of time or want to get an urgent decision, using the premium service is an option for you. Just understand that using it does not give you any guarantee that you will get the visa. Read more about the visa premium service here: https://www.gov.uk/ukvi-premium-service-centres/overview
 

Can I work now? 

  • Nope! You will need to wait for your spouse visa before you go into any form of employment. You can, however, start looking for work during this period so that you are ready to send applications when you are granted residence status. I’ll be writing about applying for your first job in the UK soon! So stay tuned for that!
 

This application form is so confusing! Any tips in filling up the FLR M form?

  • I found that a good trick around this is to google “FLR-M question (number)” and a lot of threads will come up with explanation to that specific question. 
 

What is a BRP or a Biometric Residence Permit? 

  • If you are applying for the first spouse visa phase (2-year), you will NOT have a BRP. Your BRP is your visa card. It is granted as your residence permit. 

 

Found this online, this is not mine. This is what a BRP looks like. If you were on a student visa previously, you would also have this card. If you were a tourist or on a 6-month fiance visa, you WOULD NOT have one. Picture from: http://travel.stackexchange.com/questions/40221/can-i-use-my-uk-provisional-driving-licence-as-a-residence-permit
 

What documents does applying for a UK Spouse Visa require?

 
The FLR-M form has an appendix outlining required documents. For the specific case of my first time FLR-M spouse visa application, this is what I sent through: 
  • Current Valid Passport
  • Birth certificates of both parties
  • Two identical passport-size photographs of yourself with your full name written on the back of each one
  • One passport-size photograph of your sponsor with his or her full name written on the back of it
  • Passports, all pages (both parties)
  • Marriage or civil partnership certificate
  • Registration of marriage in home country
  • Proof of Meeting English Requirement
  • Specified evidence of meeting the financial requirement, or if not required to meet the income threshold element, evidence of your finances including; Bank statements, building society savings books, pay slips or other formal documents as evidence of you and your sponsor’s ability to maintain and accommodate yourselves and any dependents without recourse to public funds.
  • Evidence of accommodation – property documents / council registration etc. 
  • BONUS TIP: Correspondence to you (and your partner) under the same address (Please read bonus tip at the bottom of this page) and YOUR proof of finances

 

Any bonus tips? 

  • THIS IS AN IMPORTANT TIP! I’m not sure if this is confusion in part of my visa officer but a few weeks into waiting for my application, I received a letter from the immigration office to submit additional documents. The strange thing is that it seemed like the requested documents were more for a second phase (5-year) application for leave to remain than for a first phase (2-year) application. It asked for my proof of income and proof of address/cohabitation since I got to the UK. This is odd because in the months that I was on a fiance visa, I was not allowed to seek employment, so I had no income and no proof of address. 
  • WHAT WE DID: In our best effort to satisfy the immigration officer’s request, we wrote a covering letter explaining these circumstances. Luckily, Andrew felt it was important that he registered me in our council as soon as we got married. The council registry and our marriage certificate allowed us to request my name to be included on our utility bills. I also printed out any form of invoice with my name and our house on it – from personal online shopping invoices to wedding supplier quotations since I came to the UK. It was important to show that I lived with him in the same address for the 6 month duration of my visa, although these were not official documents. 
  • FOR PROOF OF INCOME: I didn’t have any income as I wasn’t employed. I stated this very clearly on my cover letter. But since they requested a proof of finances, I printed whatever I can from my online personal account and sent it back with all the proof of cohabitation. 
  • SHOULD I INCLUDE THESE TWO THINGS ON MY APPLICATION? This is up to you. I’d say I would include them anyway to be safe. The immigration officer would send you a letter asking for more documents if it is needed, if you plan to just stick to the main requirements. If I learned anything from this experience, it is to be organised and diligent. As soon as you get your marriage certificate, make copies of everything ON A4 SIZED PAPER, including your passport, and start collecting proof of address. Ask your partner to help you get registered on the council and ask for proof stating this. Then look for other ways to show that you reside in that address with your husband/wife – utility bills, library card, gym membership, etc. Once you have these, make sure you file them on a monthly basis. All these documents are important to your future applications.  
 
If you have a GENUINELY loving relationship, think through the application timelines and guidelines thoroughly, and if you do not violate any of the terms of your current UK Fiance visa – you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. Have optimism and patience. This is the big hurdle that you have to get over, and then the next is planting your roots in the UK as a family. You can finally get a job, start a family, and live a normal day to day life! 

For any questions, I will try my best to answer them – but please bear in mind that this is just me sharing my experience and that this is NOT official immigration advice. I am not an official UK immigration advisor. For official advice visit: https://www.gov.uk/find-an-immigration-adviser/search-for-an-adviser

 I wish you all the best in your UK Spouse visa application and a wonderful life ahead! Let me know about your UK Spouse visa experience in the comments, I love hearing your stories!
 
Abbi
 
 
 

UPDATE! UPDATE! AFTER READING THIS POST, PLEASE SEE: http://upraisedliving.com/expat-life/new-rules-for-uk-settlement-visa-application/

 

Read about fiance visas here:
 My UK Fiance Visa Experience    LECHON
 
 

49 thoughts on “Switching to a UK Spouse Visa from a UK Fiance Visa

  1. Hi abby. I would like to ask regarding the brp of I fail to change my name in my passport. I just don’t know how can I get to change my name if I will only have 2 or less than 3mos remaining from date of marriage. Would there be an additional cost when i request for a new BRP in case i decided to change my passport name after my flr-m is granted?

    Hoping for your assistance

    Thanks

  2. Hi,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to make this! Very helpful.

    We area little stuck with the relationship side. We included 20 to 30 pages of WhatsApp convos, Facebook posts, photos with friends and family over the years for the fiance visa, Skype call logs etc. To prove we were maintaining a relationship for time we were apart. Do we not need these anymore as we have a marriage certificate when applying for the flr or do we still have to prove our relationship during the time apart?

    Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

    • Hi i didnt submit any of the relationship proof anymore as I’ve already done that in the settlement application, but i did submit some pictures from our wedding as well as pictures and proof of cohabitation from the time I was on a fiance visa. For ex. Gas bills etc.

  3. Hi Abbi!
    I am just so confused about this spouse visa application 🙁
    Did you apply online? I am not sure if i can still use the form FLR(M) or if i shouls apply online which is a bit confusing.
    Thank you!!

  4. Hi Abbi,

    Just to let you know we had a fantastic wedding last weekend, and are now getting ready for the next step. My question is, as you did not do it this way and you may know anyway, how hard is it to change my BRP to my married name as we feel we do not have enough time to change my passport? My marriage visa runs out on 7th Sept FYI.

    • Congratulations! Unfortunately, I don’t know the timings for a name change. I have lost my BRP and requested a new one, which may be the same – it took me about 2 weeks if I’m not mistaken.

  5. Hi Abbi,

    Thank you for your continuous support through your blogs. Am currently on the process of applying for a spouse visa. Am in the same situation as you were but struggling to write a cover letter. Any help would be appreciated

    xx

  6. Your blog here is very useful and informative. Cograt. I just wonder if it s difficult to get a job in London. Would you mind telling me what kind of job you are working now and how long did it take to get the job.

  7. hi abbi where did u get the proof of meeting english requirements? is that the IELts report form u took from Philippines that u use when u applied fiance visa? thank u hope to hear from u soon

      • Hello abbi, thanks for the info, I applied for flr-m by post then after 3 days they sent me back my passport…i dont know why? Do u experience that as well? And how did u get your brp? Ty

  8. Great article Abbi. The demand for the extra documentation seems strange but actually happens quite a lot. It’s never been clear to me if the visa officers just ask for documentation as a standard part of their process or if they simply get confused. Either way your advice about how to prepare for this is spot on and something I would encourage everyone to take particular note of.

  9. Hi Abbi,

    I’m getting married here in Worcester on July 15, 2017; as I read your post and checked the requirements for switching fiance visa to spouse, in meeting the English requirement, do I need to take again the English IELTS Life Skill Test? or the old one will do? I took the exam October 2016.

    Your blogs has been helpful. Thank you very much.

  10. Hi Abbi,
    We have just got our fiancé visa so are starting down the same road you went down. My fiance comes in from America next week and we have to sort all the arrangements. I really found your article informative and I hope we can sort the next visa too. I am really amazed that we have to provide all the financial info and proof of being a couple extra etc again. But we want to be together so Hopewell can sort it all again. It has been a minefield so far, stressful, upsetting (we were refused the first time) and costly. I hope we get the next visa without any problems.
    Thanks for your post it has given me an I sight to the next hurdle.
    Best wishes
    Abi
    Xx

    • Hi Abigail!

      This is such a lovely message, thank you for the feedback. I often get lots of questions from nervous couples (it’s normal) but rarely get messages just saying thanks so this is a nice one to come across.

      It is a bit frustrating to have to keep going through the process over and over – even when you are married, this struggle continues! But some things are worth the effort. 🙂

      I really wish you and your fiance all the best of luck!

      Sending you both lots of love and well wishes,
      Abbi

      PS. If you found this blog helpful, could you tweet or share it with your friends? Or you could you please have a look around my recent posts and leave a comment as well? I would very much appreciate that. Thank you!

  11. Hello! Thank you so much for writing such an informative post! I have one main question–can you apply for the FLR(M) right after the wedding? I can’t/don’t want to wait 6 months without working. And how long did switching over take?

    Also (sorry last one), what was the cost to switch from fiance to FLR(M)?

    Thanks again!

  12. Thanks for your tips!

    Just a question, if granted the Fiance Visa and would apply for further leave to remain, there is a requirement listed in your post “Registration of Marriage in Home Country” can we do this while both of us are in the UK? or do we need to go home and have it registered? 🙁

    Big thanks!

  13. Hi Abbi,
    I hope you’re well.. I would like to know.. I got married in London last year Dec 2016, then I applied for my FLR-M January 2017. I received my visa in March.I am a Filipino Passport holder. I would like to know, if I wish to go to another European country, am I eligible to travel or do I need to apply for another visa for each country?

    Thank you very much
    Coco

  14. Hi Abbi! Kamusta? Your blogs are very helpful. I’m here in the UK for 5 mos now and yesterday I posted my flrm docs and tracked the shipment, it was delivered to the HO address of correspondence at 9 in the morning today. How long did it take for your application to be granted after providing the requested additional proof of income and cohabitation? I believe the decision time takes 8 weeks but this varies in the volume of applicants and the supporting documents being assessed. Also, I want to know how many days before they take out the full visa fee payment?
    xxx

    • Hi Elle! Not sure about the payment, I’m guessing not long after you send in the application. I think I waited about 3-4 weeks more after providing the additional documents. 🙂 Good luck!

      • Thanks for the response Abbi! Looking at my account the full payment was taken out a day after they received my documents. Awaiting for letter now requesting for biometrics. Hope it will arrive soon. Crossed fingers and toes! hehehe

      • Thanks for the response Abbi! Looking at my account the full payment was taken out a day after they received my documents. Awaiting for letter now requesting for biometrics. Hope it will arrive soon. Crossed fingers and toes! hehehe

  15. Hi Abbi, your posts have been really great guidance for us as we applied for the fiancee visa! Would you mind putting together a general timeline of your process? From what I gathered in your previous posts you received the fiance visa of November 26 and had the wedding two months after- Jan 23 2016? How long did it take before you received the marriage certificate, and how long before you received your new passport from the Philippine embassy in London? We’re aiming to have the wedding around 3 months after we receive my fiancee visa- to give my family enough time to get visas to go to England for the wedding. However, I’m not sure if that will leave us with too little time to have my passport changed with my married name.

  16. Hi…I’m about to apply for FLR (M) visa for the first time and I find it very confusing whether I need BIOMETRIC CARD or not. Looking at the 81 pages it look as if I have to submit one but it isn’t clear as to whether they need it on the initial application or not. Please help… Thank you…
    Regards,
    David

    • After I got married last Feb,I applied for my FLR-M last month .I sent my 81pages Application form,I paid IHS,I sent the documents of my sponsor……After a week Home office sent me letter that I need to register and go to Post office for my Biometric cost £19.20…FYI…..

  17. Hi Abbi.

    It’s Grace again, been reading all your blogs. Just a question with marriage application, they said we can apply for notice of marriage after 9 days of arrival in the UK. Is that 9 calendar days or business days? After that, we nees to wait for another 28 days to finally get married.

  18. Hi Abbi,

    Its me again Cressy I wrote to u before on your Fiance visa blog, and it help me alot. Now that I am in UK, next step will be applying for the Spouse Visa and I am glad that you write a Blog about it again. Since fiance visa runs out after 6 months we went to registrar office after 5 days that I arrived in here and they told us to go to the main registrar in Cardiff because I am foreign and they need to do some legal checks and it takes 28days to give notice up to 70days. Did u experienced that??? We inquired feb 28 and our appointment is on march 21. I felt bad waiting for too long for an appointment. So, when i read your blog you said after marriage i need to get a new passport which is 8 to 12weeks, i was worried i may run out of time if we are planning to get married by May. Is it ok NOT to change my passport??? And just apply straight for spousal visa. ..???.. and do u have any advice about what Proofs for me to send to them just incase because we are living on his mom’s house so the utility bills is not also under my fiance’s name. I am so worried.

    I hope u can help/advice me as you have alot of experienced than me. Thank you very much in advance.

    Cressy

    • Yes you can apply for an FLRM without changing your passport. It just means that you can change your maiden name officially to your married name. All of your official docs (BRP, Council registration, etc) will be under your maiden name until your primary ID (passport) is changed to your married name.

      Also, I am only able to give advice based on my experience so I’m sorry I can’t help with your question about proof… did you not provide proof of accommodation when you applied for the UK Fiance visa? They should be based on that.

      Hope that helps!
      Abbi

  19. Great information!

    When did you change your surname? We’re trying to find the least expensive way when the time comes and the passport expires in 2019.

  20. Thanks for the information. And congratulations on obtaining a permanent uk visa.

    I’m a little confused. The fiancé visa is actually called the marriage visitor visa. The spouse visa is the family of a settled person visa. The marriage visitor visa states ‘you can’t extend your visa or switch to another visa’. So can switch visa or not? Do my fiancé apply for the marriage visitor, get married and then apply to switch to the family of settled person visa?

    My fiancé is Chinese. She studied at university here and got a bachelor degree. That’s how we met. She went back to china a couple of years ago and I’ve been visiting her often ever since. . Our plan is to get married and live with me in the U.K. I’m in the process of buying my own house and I’ve recently taken over my fathers business which meets the financial income requirement. I hope there is a chance for us to live together here.

    The information on the uk government website is not very clear.

      • Hi Abby. I’m relieved to have found this blog post because so far, it’s been really hard to find other people going through the same process as me.

        I also have the same confusion and question as Andrew (and I too have am British with a Fiancé joining me in the UK) . The information you provided is really useful but there is no mention of a “Fiancé visa” on the government website (that I can find, at least). The only one is “Marriage Visitor visa”, which, as Andres mentioned, states in the exceptions section: “you can’t extend your visa or switch to another visa”.

        Now, reading through this post and through the comments it seems that most are doing just that – “switch[ing] to another visa” (the “family of a settled person visa”) from a “Marriage visitor visa”. But according to the government website it’s not possible. I can’t find any other visa that allows you to come to the UK and apply for spouse visa while the foreign party is in the UK.

        It’s all very confusing. I’ve tried speaking to a couple of solicitors in the UK but they keep telling me “why are you not just applying for a spouse visa from outside the country? It’s much easier. You’d be crazy to do it any other way” – which is just frustrating, I just want to know the details.

        Also, do you happen to know if spouse visa (the “family of a settled person visa”) has a premium processing option from outside the country? My fiancé and I will be having our ceremony in S. Korea so I will be there for a couple of weeks. Worst case (or fast case??) we could marry in Korea, apply for spouse visa with premium and get a result super quick – and then go to the UK together…

        Thanks again,
        Berry

        • Hello Barry! Let me try to help clarify this –

          If you are staying in another country (not the UK) and would like to keep living there but would like to get married in the UK you need the MARRIAGE VISITOR VISA. You can’t live in the UK after that.
          If your fiance is a foreigner who lives abroad and you would like to marry her in the UK and you want to live together in the UK after that, you need a Join Family in the UK/Settlement Visa – particularly one with the subcategory “Marriage”. Then you need to convert that visa with a Further Leave to Remain (FLR-M).You can then live in the UK after switching.
          If you marry your fiance abroad, you need the same Join Family in the UK/Settlement Visa subcategory “Wife/Husband”. If it is approved, then your can live in the UK together.

          You are right, there are no specific terminologies in the immigration process that clarifies which one is for a spouse or fiance visa. When thinking of what visa to get, all that matters is to understand where you want to get married and where you would both like to live.

          If you are having the wedding in south Korea, you will need to go the direct option, where you wouldn’t need to do the additional step. There is now a super priority visa service, but it is ridiculously expensive. I looked up the site for South Korea and found it here: http://www.vfsglobal.co.uk/southkorea/user_pay_services.html#1

          The reason why people say it is easier to do the spouse visa from outside the UK is because you skip the process of having to convert it, making the process cheaper as well. However, according to some forums, they are stricter with this track as most marriages of convenience happen outside the UK. This is unfounded, but logical. So I went the route of fiance visa and getting married in the UK. While it is more expensive, it just made me and my husband a bit more comfortable. Once again, this is all up to you.

          Hope this helped! Good luck!
          ABbi

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