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Family Members and Marriage for Expats in the United Kingdom

Author: Jim Newham
Submitted: July 2013

*In the referendum of 23rd June 2016, a majority of UK voted to leave the European Union. At present, however, until October 2018 at the very earliest, this decision will not have any effect whatsoever on UK immigration laws.

Family Members

Ideally, when you immigrate to another country, you are able to bring your partner and children with you at the same time. If this is not financially or otherwise possible, you may need to spend some time working in the UK, possibly remitting money to your home country to help support your family. Once you have started to familiarise yourself with Britain, found some suitable family accommodation and perhaps looked into schools and such things, you may find it easier to move the rest of your family into the country.

There are several requirements for permission to enter the country, or ‘entry clearance’ of spouses of European Economic Area (EEA) citizens into the UK. The most important are : your marriage must be genuine and valid under UK law, you must not have been deemed unsuitable in any way, you are able to communicate in English to an acceptable level, and you are intending to live with your partner in the UK permanently.

In addition to these requirements, a financial requirement was added for almost all applicants on 9 July 2012, which has proved controversial. If you are the spouse or civil partner of an EEA citizen who lives in the UK, you now need to prove that you can financially support yourself and any children you have. To do this, you or your UK-resident partner need to have been working for 6 months on an annual salary of more than £18,600. You will also need to bring proof of your employment, including a letter from your employer, your contract and recent pay slips.

Alternatively, you may be able to meet the requirement if you have enough savings (£62,500 for a spouse only), or if you have any other source of income, such as self-employment and income from a pension or investments.

Dependant, unmarried children under 18 are not normally allowed permanent residence in the UK unless both their parents (or their only parent if this is the case) are already settled or have permission to settle in the UK.

If you are not an EEA citizen and you want to bring a non-EEA citizen child into the UK, the minimum salary of the above financial requirement rises to £22,400. For each additional such child, another £2,400 is added to this minimum. In either case, you will need to demonstrate that you have accommodation available for all the members of your family, without needing any financial support from the British government.



In the UK, the minimum age you can be married is 16, though you need parental consent if you are under 18. The first stage of the marriage process is to give notice of your intention to marry at the nearest register office. You can give this notice from many Commonwealth countries before you leave home.

Once the notice period has expired, you are free to have a religious or civil ceremony as suits you. The procedure for registering a civil partnership in the UK is identical to marriage in all important respects.

If you are not an EEA national and are outside the UK but want to get married or register a civil partnership in the UK, you will need a visa. This is equally true whether you simply want to get married then leave Britain or whether you are planning to stay in the UK after your wedding.

You will need to provide evidence that you plan to get married or register your civil partnership within six months of entering the UK. In all cases, you will also need to give notice of your marriage or civil partnership to the registrar of a designated register office.




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