UK Immigration laws for marriage

Updated April 07, 2017

The UK Border Agency (UKBA) is assigned to evaluate and grant (or refuse) visa applications, including applications for settlement that are made based on marriage to a UK citizen. These visa applications have a different set of criteria and laws compared to those used for work or student visas, since the points-based immigration system does not apply to these family-based applications. A potential immigrant into the UK under a family-based application must meet all of the criteria set out by UKBA for such applications, including age, finances, adequate accommodations and good character.


According to the UKBA guidance notes for husbands, wives and partners (INF4), applicants and their partners must be over the age of 21, even though the legal age for marriage in the UK is 18. The UK Home Office implemented this guideline to curtail the practice of forced marriages. Both partners must meet this age requirement in order for a visa to be granted. Section 277 of UKBA's immigration law makes no provisions for waivers, even if the couple was married outside of the UK, unless one partner is serving in Her Majesty's Armed Forces.

Financial Support

The couple's ability to support themselves and any dependents without access to public funds is another UK immigration law, found in section 281 (iv). UKBA immigration officers use their guidance notes to determine whether financial documentation provided with the application is adequate. Internal guidance note MAA8 (maintenance and accommodation: spouse/civil, partner/unmarried or same-sex partner) states that the ECO must be satisfied as to the ability of the couple to live without resorting to public funds. The note reminds officers to take into account the couple's ability to meet this income requirement together and to produce "reasonably firm plans for the forseeable future."


Adequate accommodations also need to be provided for the UK resident, her spouse and any dependents, as stated in internal guidance notes MAA11 to MAA13. Applicants need to provide documentation that housing has been secured, such as a rental agreement, mortgage statement or land registry document. If the home is occupied by others or rented, a statement is required from the current tenants or landlord confirming that the couple will have an area for their exclusive use. Further, UKBA officers are advised, "The onus is on the applicant to provide confirmation that there is no objection to an additional resident moving into the accommodation."

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Gwen Wark is a freelance writer working from London, Dublin, and New York. She has been a published writer since 1998 with works appearing in both university and local publications. Her current writing projects include SEO, web copy, print and advertising features. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in history from Rutgers University.