Updated 21 April 2020
With lives at risk, jobs lost, and people under temporary confinement, marriage may be the last thing on many people’s minds. However for those here on a 6 month fiancé(e) visa who cannot marry due to closure of Registry Offices in Scotland (and likely in England and Wales too), this is an additional concern. Their visa may be coming to an end, and their plans to marry and subsequently apply for a UK spouse visa extension have all imploded.
What do they do? How do they protect themselves from becoming an overstayer?
Luckily, the Immigration Rules already allow fiancé visa holders to extend their fiancé visa where a “good reason” is presented for why the marriage could not proceed. The appropriate section under Appendix FM is the following:
“E-LTRP.1.11. If the applicant is in the UK with leave as a fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner and the marriage or civil partnership did not take place during that period of leave, there must be good reason why and evidence that it will take place within the next 6 months.”
Pre-coronavirus, I’ve relied on family bereavement as a “good reason” as to why a wedding could not proceed. The global pandemic is a far greater reason; one which ought to be accepted.
To apply, the usual protocol as to how applications are now submitted needs to be followed. This is essentially broken down into two parts. The first is the submission of the online form on gov.uk. The second is the enrolment of biometrics at one of the Sopra Steria offices in the UK. Naturally the next question then is whether these offices are still open. At the outset of the pandemic, some of the centres remained open but as is now common knowledge, all Sopra Steria centres are closed. Their website will be updated when this changes.
In practice, what this means is that Home Office will then keep the application active until such time that the second stage of the process (i.e. biometrics) can be completed. The applicant is still protected and can remain in the UK legally as they applied and paid for the application before their six month visa expired. This particular protection is provided by paragraph 34(G)(3) of the Immigration Rules.
If you are in this situation and require some advice, please contact us using our contact page. We continue to work on all cases remotely and will be able to guide you through the various changes that will continuously roll out in this rapidly changing environment.
28/04/21 Via Google28 April 2021
23/04/21 Via Yell23 April 2021
24/04/21 Via Google23 April 2021