Help: I have overstayed my visa

I’ve  been in a relationship with a British citizen. Can we marry in the UK?

Q) I have overstayed my visa but have been in a relationship with a British citizen and we both want to get married. I want to find out whether we can marry in the UK and whether I can get a marriage visa after?

A) The Home Office will accept an application for marriage from those without legal status. Their policy reads: “Applications from those individuals who do not have valid leave to enter or  remain (illegal entrants, persons who have been refused leave to enter, but granted temporary admission or temporary admission pending the outcome of an application for leave to enter, and those who have overstayed their leave to remain) who have until now been refused unless there are exceptional compassionate circumstances for granting a certificate of approval will be treated in line with the current guidance for those who have limited, but insufficient, leave to qualify for a COA (Certificate of Approval). Where a person without leave to remain applies for a Certificate of Approval the Home Office will (as in all cases where we discover a person present illegally) consider whether or not enforcement action should be initiated, in addition to considering the application for the Certificate of Approval”.

It should be noted that where a Certificate of Approval is granted, this does not mean that the applicant will then automatically be eligible or obtain a visa to remain in the UK on the basis of their marriage.

After the marriage, the applicant may then make a further application to the Home Office requesting leave to remain as a settled spouse, but such an application would be assessed in accordance with the immigration rules which usually require the applicant to have entry clearance to enter the UK as a spouse and therefore the Home Office are likely to consider an in-country application at their absolute discretion.

There is also the option of getting married in the Church. The Church of England or Roman Catholic Church sometimes allow people to marry without the need of obtaining a Certificate of Approval.

By Raheela Hussain, Principal Solicitor of Greenfields Solicitors. The above article is meant to be relied upon as an informative article and in no way constitutes legal advice. For legal advice regarding your case, please contact Greenfields Solicitors on 020 8884 1166 for a Consultation with a Solicitor.