Quote Originally Posted by Terpe View Post
This is a frequently asked question that often doesn't receive a comparative review.

In my opinion is quite difficult to provide definitive advice as there are both advantages and disadvantages to each settlement route and the final
decision, in the large part, really comes down to personal circumstance and choice.

Here's my attempt at covering as many angles as I can think of that needs serious consideration.

Firstly, just because it's easier, lets consider that age old question concerning the cost comparison.

Here's a basic breakdown based on current visa fees (valid at February 2012):-

Fiance Visa......£810
FLR Visa..........£550
ILR Visa...........£972


Spouse Visa......£810
ILR Visa...........£972


The difference is solely down to the additional £550 cost of the FLR (Further Leave to Remain)....
However, somehow we need to 'factor-in' the costs of actually becomming a spouse in the Philippines. I'm not sure that including travelling costs is a fair comparison so lets just leave those aside.

Wherever the wedding actually takes place there will be some costs involved. I suggest that in both countries weddings can be as cheap or as expensive as
wanted. Down to the personal choice and/or circumstances of the couple.

So there we have it, in principle the spouse visa route has a potentially slightly lower cost base.

Whichever route is taken, both visas (when granted) can lead to permanent settlement (and naturalisation if desired).
Both visas have pretty much the same key requirements in order to meet immigration rules and satisfy UKBA, and as such, require very similar supporting
evidence and documentation. This means that technically neither route offers any clear advantage over the other.
However, contrary to popular belief, most ECO's are not just box-tickers and do need to feel comfortable about evidence of genuine relationship. This is one area
where providing a really good letter of support from the sponsor can help to convince the ECO.

I also happen to believe that when the relationship is truly genuine then this does show through on the application making both visas fairly straightforward in understanding the needed support.
Do keep in mind though, that in itself marriage is not proof. Plenty of people try to use marriage as the route to a visa, and the UKBA are well aware of that.

On a positive note, most applicants actually do get their visa granted at the first application whichever one of the 2 visa's they go for.

So where do you want to get married - UK or Philippines?

The key difference is that the fiancee visa is valid for 6 months and permits entry into the UK in order to get married, after marriage you need to apply for permission to temporarily remain in the UK, as a spouse, for a further period of two years. This is known as Further Leave to Remain or FLR.
Just before the end of this two year qualifying period (earliest 28 days before) you may apply for permanent settlement, otherwise known as Indefinite Leave to Remain or ILR.
The period of time spent in UK under the Fiance(e) Visa, until you marry, cannot be counted towards your ILR.

You may apply for the spouse visa as soon as you are married.
When granted outside of the UK, the spouse visa is usually valid for 27 months and allows entry into the UK and permission to remain temporarily as a spouse
Just before the end of a two year qualifying period living in UK (earliest 28 days before) you may apply for permanent settlement, otherwise known as Indefinite Leave to Remain or ILR.
Being the holder of a Spouse Visa allows you to take up employment as soon as you arrive into the UK

So what are the other considerations?

Well, as the holder of a Spouse Visa you will be allowed to take up employment as soon as you arrive into the UK. This can seriously help financially, help you with the potential boredom and feeling of being homesick in a strange country. You have a good period of stability before the stresses of apply for the next visa in your journey.

The holder of a Fiance(e) visa is not permitted to work until the FLR has been granted.

But whever you do get married one part of the family is likely to be disappointed, unless they are able to easily travel and/or secure a visa.

By opting for a Spouse Visa at least it's providing the opportunity for the lady to get married in front of all her family and friends.
Once she is married and comes over to the UK, she will likely only rarely see them, and at least a Philippines wedding provides a great send-off and a very special time filled with very special memories. Once you are both in the UK, it's an easy option to have either a church or civil blessing to the marriage for your own family and friends if wanted.

Better still, if you can manage to secure an extra long holiday from work and actually spend some quality time together it's a great way to get to know each other even more, and also get a feel for living in the Philippines. (well it might help).

In my view it's so important to really get to know each other and the extended family. Leaving family, friends, home and your country and going half a world away to live with some guy you might only have met once in the Philippiness, is a big ask, and for some might be just too much. Especially if she finds herself in some socially quiet neighbourhood of the UK without any friends. Some adapt and thrive while others really struggle to get to grips with life in UK.
Take some special time and special measures to make sure your Mahal is aware of what moving to the UK might mean. Don't ever make promises you either can't or won't ever keep.

Then again, on the other hand, some people just dont like the prospect of getting married in the Philippines and then having to return to the UK alone to face the wait for the visa process to take its course. Its difficult enough at anytime saying your goodbyes at the airport, but when it's your new bride you're saying good bye to it can be very upsetting and depressing.
I understand lots of people do it, but I also know that many of those have found it very very difficult, especially when few or even no preparations have been made to support the visa application. Or in the worst cases where there's no understanding of the UKBA requirements or ability to comply.

Be sure to get things organised properly and try to help all concerned to face the uncertainties of the visa application and decision.
Leaving all the work for your new wife to figure out is just not fair. (imo)

There is an argument in favour of the Fiance(e) Visa in that it can allow you to spend time together in the UK before either party commits to getting married and living a life in UK. This might prove invaluable to some folks.
Of course, it would be ideal if circumstances allowed for a trip to be made to UK under a general visit visa. At least both of you can be relaxed in the knowledge
that you're under no pressures to get married within 6 months. This is a good strategy if the relationship feels like it needs that extra little 'comfort test'
Sadly though, the visit visa is often not easy to secure. But it is very low cost, low risk and will not have any adverse impact on subsequent settlement visa application. Do remember though that there is no possibility to 'switch' or convert a visitor visa to settlement. The applicant must return home.

There is actually a special class of visit visa called a Marriage Visa. This visa is the same low cost as a general visit visa and it allows you to visit UK for a period of 6 months for the purpose of getting married. Of course you still need to return home and make a spouse visa settlement application, but at least it provides time to get to know each other better and time to become a spouse without the pressures of preparing also for the FLR.
Well, may not sound ideal for most of us but obviously meets the needs of some folks.

Well, there's plenty of issues to consider, and it's not an easy decision for many.

Hopefully this is food for thought.
This is very helpful as we are still trying to decide where to marry. We have all the CNI business done so we can ger married in PH no problem; (our idea to get married at work in the Caribbean has been cast aside).
I have a couple of questions in relation to the above post:
1. Has anything changed in the time since the original post?
2. How long does the process normally take between the marriage & the visa being granted?