Switching Rules

Switching from a visitor to a spouse or fiance

I am here as a VISITOR and would like to switch into a FIANCE or SPOUSAL visa. Is it ok?

...In 1999, 76% of those granted leave to remain on the basis of marriage had been admited to the UK for another purpose and 50% of those who switched into the marriage category did so within 6 months of entry. As it seems unlikely that such a large percentage of this number would develop permanent relationships within such a short period of time, the indication is that many of these persons had intended to marry all along but had not obtained leave to enter on this basis and had therefore lied about their intentions to the entry clearance officer. Alternatively, they may have entered a bogus marriage to obtain leave to remain after arrival...

Extract from "Secure Borders, Safe Haven", 2002 Cm 5387

Based upon the rationale given above, the rules were changed in 2003 to prevent VISITORS from switching into FIANCE and SPOUSE categories So the answer is no.

I am here as a VISITOR, if I cannot switch in the UK, can I get married or engaged in the UK and then apply for a FIANCE or SPOUSAL visa in Europe? This would be much more convenient than having to return all the way to [Japan, USA, India, etc]...

You can apply in any country where you are ordinarily resident. The British Consulate will not accept FIANCE and SPOUSAL applications in countries you entered as a visitor. 


To follow up on this information, check our Internet Resources page...

Reviewed 9 May 2012


Visitors FAQ

The IDI tells us that there is no fixed interval required between successive visits to the UK, and this strategy is within the rules. But there is no guarantee that you will be readmitted. Also, the IDIs also tell us about the so-called "spent-leave rule", so this strategy should be used with care.

This is a mild form of abuse, but it is generally acceptable if there is a good reason and booking a later flight will not result in your overstaying.

Take careful note that the Immigration Officer may record the date of your return ticket on the back of your landing card, and frequent abuse may ultimately hurt your credibility.

Arrival in the UK is different than applying for a visa abroad. If you are arriving as a VISITOR, the Immigration Officer is entitled to an assurance that your onward journey has been provided for, and accordingly may ask to see your return ticket. If you are entering the UK as a visitor and are unable to show a return ticket when asked to do so, you will be in a spot of bother.