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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all fellow expats-

I truly am so thankful for all the help and advice I've received here- an absolute life-saver (and sanity saver!)

I am an American citizen whose applied for the Fiance Settlement Visa to marry my British Citizen fiance. Our timeline:
June 13: Applied online
June 19: Biometrics Appointment
June 23: sent supporting doc to Sheffield
June 25: Fedex confirmation doc were received in Sheffield
July 10: email from UKBA that "application has been received at the visa processing centre in Sheffield, UK and organized in preparation for consideration by an Entry Clearance Officer."

In June, we looked online at UKBA processing times page and it stated that "Settlement" visas from the "US" were taking on average 15 business days to process (75% of applications were decided within 15 days in May 2014).

We have planned on a September 3rd 2014 wedding for some time now, thinking we'd have the visa with no time-issues. When I called UKBA today, they told me that settlement visa were taking much longer- but I checked so many times before submitting our application and it stated 15 days on average!

Anyway, its 17 business days for us now. I checked the forums and there seems to be bogged down with student visas. I paid for priority service today (Aug 1) through VSF Global ($510) for the application to be moved to the front of the queue as we have our photographer, videographer, venue, family/friends flights booked, etc.

My questions are:
1. Is it likely with the priority service that we will receive the visa in time? (Our application is not complicated, except fiance is self-employed, but I submitted 10 pounds of documents, we have no children, not previously married, no criminal convictions, lots of proof, bank statements, taxes, etc)

2. If I do not get the Fiance Visa in time, I was suggested by the UKBA when I phoned them to get an emergency US passport and come over (not on a visa, as a visit) to have the party, without legally getting married.

- Is this possible while I wait for my fiance visa to come through? I know I can get an emergency passport within 8 days if I go to a Passport Process Center if I wait last minute, but can I even travel if I'm "in the system" waiting for a settlement visa?
- To complicate it, as a US citizen, I am allowed 6 months every 12 months in the UK (without a visa/as a visitor). I was in the UK from Aug 5, 2013-Jan 25, 2014 (173 days)- so even if I was allowed to travel, would I exceed my allowed time there if I went say, mid-August for the "party"?

3. If I can get to the UK without my Fiance Visa to still have the celebration, can I apply for a "Visitor for Marriage" UK visa whilst still waiting for my Fiance Visa?

4. If I can't get a Visitor for Marriage visa, would the vicar still be able to perform the "ceremony" without it being legally binding?

I apologize for the length and complexities of this post- I'm just trying to plan "Plan B" as we were thrown for a loop! I feel terrible as family/friends have plans, airfare, and we have paid for everything for a wedding.

ALL OF YOUR HELP IS SO VERY APPRECIATED! I couldn't do it without you all on here!
 

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#1: You're cutting it awfully close... from what I am lead to believe, priority applications are currently taking 5-6 weeks to process. I don't know how long yours will take, given that you've just paid for priority after having sat in line for a few weeks.

#2: Again, you're cutting it close and you'd be at the mercy of the immigration officer who processes you when you arrive. You could try to get in on a tourist visa, but please keep in mind that the IO has every right to refuse you entry given that a) you're reaching the 6 months in 12 months rule and b) you're wanting to have a mock wedding and reception whilst your fiancée visa is still being processed... that will look highly suspect to the IO and he/she may just refuse you entry from the outset.

#3: You cannot switch from a Tourist visa to any other type of visa from within the UK... you must apply for the visa from the country of ordinary residence (in your case, the USA).

In regards to #4, it's going to be next to impossible to get married in the Church of England without a visa, and as you are a non-EEA citizen, you must get a Common License issued by the Church (I know this for a fact, as I was married C of E in London two years ago this November and as a Canadian marrying a Brit, I had to get a Common License issued before the wedding). I know of no process within the Church that allows for non-binding wedding ceremonies to take place. In order to get that issued, you need to prove to the Church that you are legally allowed to get married... the Church works in cooperation with the UKBA and the diocese will take a copy of your passport and the Fiancé(e) Visa/Visitor for Marriage Visa prior to issuing the license. This process takes about a week to complete.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
HI WestCoastCanadianGirl,

Thanks for the response- much appreciated. Please see my replied below:

1. I am looking now on the post "Post your UK visa timeline here!" to see what everyone's timeline is currently.

2. Would I need a tourist visa though? Am I right in thinking I am allowed there for 6 months for every rolling 12 months? I definitely wouldn't mention wanting to have a mock wedding as I'm sure they would turn me away right away. It would be just for a "visit."

3. Sorry, I think there was some miscommunication. I just meant that if we are cutting it close and still no word on the Fiance Visa, would I be able to get an emergency passport and before heading to the UK, get a VIsitor for Marriage visa, then go to the UK with my emergency passport and Visitor for Marriage visa whilst my Fiance Visa application is still being processed?

4. Thanks for the info. When I was in England, my Church of England church had me go to one of the Designated Registry Offices and obtain a Superintendent Registrar License/Certificate with my fiance so we both "gave notice" at the registry office back in January 2014. According to the Certiticate of Marriage they gave us, we have until Jan 20, 2015 to get married.

Thank you again
 

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Hello all fellow expats-

I truly am so thankful for all the help and advice I've received here- an absolute life-saver (and sanity saver!)

I am an American citizen whose applied for the Fiance Settlement Visa to marry my British Citizen fiance. Our timeline:
June 13: Applied online
June 19: Biometrics Appointment
June 23: sent supporting doc to Sheffield
June 25: Fedex confirmation doc were received in Sheffield
July 10: email from UKBA that "application has been received at the visa processing centre in Sheffield, UK and organized in preparation for consideration by an Entry Clearance Officer."

In June, we looked online at UKBA processing times page and it stated that "Settlement" visas from the "US" were taking on average 15 business days to process (75% of applications were decided within 15 days in May 2014).

We have planned on a September 3rd 2014 wedding for some time now, thinking we'd have the visa with no time-issues. When I called UKBA today, they told me that settlement visa were taking much longer- but I checked so many times before submitting our application and it stated 15 days on average!

Anyway, its 17 business days for us now. I checked the forums and there seems to be bogged down with student visas. I paid for priority service today (Aug 1) through VSF Global ($510) for the application to be moved to the front of the queue as we have our photographer, videographer, venue, family/friends flights booked, etc.

My questions are:
1. Is it likely with the priority service that we will receive the visa in time? (Our application is not complicated, except fiance is self-employed, but I submitted 10 pounds of documents, we have no children, not previously married, no criminal convictions, lots of proof, bank statements, taxes, etc)
Priority processing has been taking 3-4 weeks at least. 10 pounds worth of documents is excessive even for self-employment.

2. If I do not get the Fiance Visa in time, I was suggested by the UKBA when I phoned them to get an emergency US passport and come over (not on a visa, as a visit) to have the party, without legally getting married.

- Is this possible while I wait for my fiance visa to come through? I know I can get an emergency passport within 8 days if I go to a Passport Process Center if I wait last minute, but can I even travel if I'm "in the system" waiting for a settlement visa?
- To complicate it, as a US citizen, I am allowed 6 months every 12 months in the UK (without a visa/as a visitor). I was in the UK from Aug 5, 2013-Jan 25, 2014 (173 days)- so even if I was allowed to travel, would I exceed my allowed time there if I went say, mid-August for the "party"?
I'm pretty sure this is not a good idea. First, you've already been in the UK for nearly 6 months in the past 12. You may meet resistance at the border so there is no guarantee that you'll be admitted. Second, they'll be able to see that you have an application being processed.

3. If I can get to the UK without my Fiance Visa to still have the celebration, can I apply for a "Visitor for Marriage" UK visa whilst still waiting for my Fiance Visa?

Not unless you withdraw your application in which case you will lose your fees. Your passport is a required document for any visa.

4. If I can't get a Visitor for Marriage visa, would the vicar still be able to perform the "ceremony" without it being legally binding?
You can have a blessing ceremony but the chances of you being admitted are slim.
 

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Your example serves as a harsh reminder that you shouldn't book fixed-itinerary flight and anything else that can't be easily changed without first getting your visa. Home Office warns about it on every page so you took a risk. I know we all want things to be all neatly tied up and last-minute fare is expensive, but the visa business doesn't work like that (a state monopoly with its own rules and procedure which you have to abide by; they do remind you that posted processing time is only a guide and you shouldn't rely on it).
I urge you not to try to get into UK as visitor if your visa doesn't come through, as there is a high risk of refusal - I put your chance as no better than 50-50. And no Church of England clergy I know of will entertain any kind of symbolic ceremony prior to legal marriage (you can have one after you are married).
 
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