Applying for the UK fiancé or spouse visa can be a long and complicated process. It is daunting, in fact, when you first begin researching and don’t really know where to begin. There is a lot of information available, but not all of it is up to date or current. That can make finding out what you need to know even more difficult. And, to add to that, the official paperwork is not always as clear as it could be. There are areas that are open to interpretation, and vague.
Altogether, the application process can leave you feeling stressed and alone. There are not likely to be many others that you know personally to have gone through the process. If you do, then you are in luck and have a valuable resource that you should not take for granted. However, for most of us, there is precious little help out there. So, we have put together this guide to show you some of the sources that we have used in preparing for our application, that will hopefully help you out too.
The UK Government Website
The first, and most obvious place to look for guidance is the UK Government website. There is a huge wealth of information on this site, primarily focused on what you can and cannot do during the application process. The first place to check, is the guide to ‘Apply to remain in the UK with family‘ as this is the category that the fiancé and spouse visas fall under. Once you have checked the regulations and requirements, you can find the forms that you will need for the application here. For the fiancé and spouse visas, you will need to fill out form VAF4A and VAF4A Appendix 2.
Visa Guidance Sites
Unfortunately, although the UK Government is somewhat helpful in research, it is definitely not a complete guide. It does little more than provide the framework that you need to complete an application. For more in-depth advice on what you can and cannot provide as a part of your evidence, and how to make the application, it is worth checking out a few of the visa guidance sites out there.
These are websites that offer help with the application process, usually for a substantial fee. We would not recommend using one of these sites to make your application for you. However, they can be beneficial whilst researching the visa, as they tend to provide a much better description of the requirements, with examples, than the UK Government website. Three of the most helpful sites of this kind are: 1st Contact Visas, Visa Logic and IXP Visas.
Once you have exhausted all of the possible support you can get for free from these sites, your next port of call should be expat forums. These often have a section dedicated to help with the UK fiancé and spouse visas. More importantly, however, they are full of people who are either going through the process, or have successfully applied for the visa. Here, you can find out what has and has not worked for people, which should provide you with a framework for your own supporting evidence, and some more personalised support.
However, a word of caution on these forums. These are only the opinions of people, and not the official guidance. Depending on what you read, the regulations may have changed since that application was made. The most recent changes to the process were made in 2012, and so any posts from before that time may not be as relevant as more recent ones. Some of our favourite expat forums, with up to date advice and help are: Expat Forum, British Expats, and Immigration Matters.
LDR Blogs & YouTube Videos
As well as forums, another great resource to take advantage of is LDR blogs and YouTube videos. We have our own guide to the UK fiancé and spouse visa application, broken down into: whether it is right for you, documents for applicants & documents for sponsors. However, don’t just take our word for it. There are plenty of other blogs which discuss their personal thoughts on the UK fiancé and spouse visas as well. Most of these currently take the form of YouTube videos, which are a great way to see visually some of the aspects you will need to consider.
Some of our favourite YouTube channels that discuss in depth their experiences with the UK fiancé visa include: Jennifer & Neil Vlogs (who successfully applied), UK Marriage Visa (which although corny, provides some good information) and Mr & Mrs Walsh (who also successfully applied for the visa). Remember, with these videos, that while the information provided is often in-depth and useful, it is only for particular circumstances, so make sure to check how similar your circumstances are while you are watching.
Finally, perhaps the most complete and useful help you can get is from solicitors or lawyers specialised in immigration law. Of course, this is the most expensive help you can seek, as most legal professionals will charge significant fees for consultations, advice and checking your documentation. Therefore, our advice for using legal help would be to carry out as much research as possible on your own, using other available methods. Then put together your application. However, before you submit it, ask a legal professional to check over it for mistakes, before making the final submission.
This negates a lot of the expensive fees, and still ensures that you are submitting a legally sound application. Remember that solicitors/ lawyers are also able to certify your documents, so it is worth having this done at the same time to reduce fees as much as possible. While there are some national solicitors that you are able to visit, most towns and cities (both within and outside of the UK) will have at least one immigration specialist able to help you. Where possible, try to seek local advice to reduce the amount of travel & time before your application is submitted.
These are our recommendations for where to get help with the UK fiancé and spouse visa applications, from both official and personal sources. We hope that some of these links help you with your application. Or perhaps you prefer to get advice from another source? Let us know your experiences in the comments below, and good luck!