Spouse v Fiancee - which visa type to choose?

We have made this table to help you to decide which one of these categories is right for you. We have successfully dealt with both categories over the last 10 years, both pre - July 2012 changes and since - and we can share our extensive experience. 



Spouse visa

Fiancée visa

Marital status 

Have to be married (or get married ) and apply for a UK visa as a Spouse. 

This category allows you to come to the UK, to get married in the UK within 6 months and then apply for a Spouse visa. 

Where to apply?

You can apply for a Spouse visa in the foreign spouse's country.

You can also apply inside the UK but only if your current UK visa allows such a "switch". If it doesn't , you have to apply abroad.

For advice on when you can and can't switch ,please book a consultation with us now.For example , you may be considering to change from a visitor or a student status. 

You can only apply for a Fiancée visa outside the UK , usually on the foreign partner's country. 

This includes a situation where your current UK visa allows to switch to a Spouse visa but you prefer to take the Fiancée route (such as if you need more time to meet the Financial Requirement). 

Duration of the visa 

2.5 years , then extension for another 2.5 years , then permanent residency.

Unless you are put in the 10-year route which would need 2 more extensions . You can read here on Spouse visa 5-year route and here on Spouse visa 10-year route.

We also have a post on our Blog explaining what the difference is between 5 and 10-year routes. 


6 months , then Spouse visa for 2.5 years , then extension for another 2.5 years , then permanent residency. 


Fewer steps due to fewer applications because each application attracts a government fee , having to meet the requirements and supply a specified pack of documents. 

Shorter time (by 6 months ) to qualify for permanent residence. 

This visa allows to work from day 1. 

Gives you 6 months to come to the UK, to plan a wedding here and settle in your new life here first. 

Another - very significant - advantage is a UK -issued marriage certificate in English language. If you are planning your future life to be mostly in the UK your life may be easier with such a document when dealing with the organisations, such as the NHS or the banks. 

Those nationals who require a Schengen visa (Indian, Russian, Filipino, nationals of African countries etc ) : your U.K. visa won't be valid in the Schengen area (nothing to do with Brexit , it has always been the case). Whereas you can certainly apply for one here, many Schengen embassies require a foreign marriage certificate to be formally legalised (which isn't required for a UK visa). For example , French Consulate required legalisation from your Embassy while Spanish - Hague Apostille. Our sister company deals with Schengen visas  f you wish to know more. 

Getting married in the UK is often easier and less bureaucratic than abroad. British citizens getting married abroad need more paperwork (non-visa related , such as legalised birth certificate or certificate if no impediment) to get married in another country than foreign nationals - here. 


The points covered in Advantages of a Fiancé/Fiancée visa. 

It is a more expensive route in terms of the visa fees because of an extra application (another fee etc). It depends , however, on how expensive it is to get married in another country. 

This visa does not allow working in the UK until you get married and secure a Spouse visa. If you wish to speed this up, you can make an application for a Spouse visa using same-day service

We can help you make the right choice - book advice session with our experienced immigration lawyers oninfo@1st4immigration.com  You can also read Testimonials here.