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Q: South African bride to marry a UK citizen and settle in the UK ( Answered,   2 Comments )
Subject: South African bride to marry a UK citizen and settle in the UK
Category: Family and Home
Asked by: naj-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 22 Jun 2002 02:15 PDT
Expires: 22 Jun 2003 02:15 PDT
Question ID: 31513
Hi, I am getting marrried to a South African lady in the new year,
We plan to marry out there as all her family is there and then move to
the UK and settle here. I am a british citizen by birth and I am a
time resident of the UK. I would like to know the following:
- Assuming we have not done anything, what is the process we need to
follow to
  get married in South Africa, what documentation I need to bring with
- How do we ensure that it is recognised as a legitimate marriage by
the UK so
  we can apply for her spousal visa to enable her to settle in the UK.
- As much advice, etc as possible so we can ensure that her visa
application will  go smoothly and with no mishap.
- Any other relevant facts, information or advice is welcome.
Subject: Re: South African bride to marry a UK citizen and settle in the UK
Answered By: politicalguru-ga on 22 Jun 2002 04:51 PDT
Dear Naj, 

Congratualtions on the marriage! 

Getting married in South Africa - Basic marriage law is written here:
First you have to register your marriage (this is free) and done at
the same day you come; at the same day you also have to apply for a
marriage certificate, that costs R40. If you're still in the UK you
can do it prior to the marriage in the consulate (15 Whitehall
London SW1A 2DD; Tel: +44 (0) 20 7 925 8910; Fax: +44 (0) 20 7930 1510
(Main Number); +44 (0) 20 7930 1519 ; +44 (0) 20 7925 8913; Submission
of applications: Monday – Friday (8h45 – 12h45)); you can also do it
in the regional offices of the Dep. of Home Affairs in South Africa
(see a list here - You
have to ask for form BI-130 (careful: PDF -

Documents you must have: your passport;  if you're still a minor, your
parent's consent must be presented (same for your bride); all
documents regarding a death of a spouse if you're a widower or divorce
in case you're divorced; you can read all of that in the official Dep.
of Home Affairs site -

You can become a South African citizen "If married to a South African
spouse, two years of permanent residence and two years of marriage to
the South African spouse immediately prior to the application". (see : Your British
nationality is not affected. Under British Nationality Law a British
citizen can have more than one nationality.

Marrying a British citizen is no guarantee of the right to live and
work there. You apply for settlement visa, and then after three years
of marriage and legal residency, she can apply for citizenship.

For your wife to settle in the UK, you'll need the following (warning:
PDFs - require "acrobat reader"):,0.pdf 

South African legal marriages are recognised in the UK. Therefore,
there should be no specific problems (but you might want to consider
applying for permanent settlement while you're still engaged). You
must bring with you your marriage certificate.

However, you must ensure them when they ask, that you're not
"convinience" marriage only that she could get a British
residency/citizenship. If they suspect any of that, hey might deny her
the visa. If you lived together before the marriage - bring evidences;
also bring: picutres of you and of the wedding (incl. the relatives),
letters that you might have sent to each other and any other "proof"
that you're not "faked".

Your wife will get will be given permission to stay and work for 12
months. Near the end of the 12 months, if you are still married and
plan to live together, your husband or wife may apply to remain here
(source:; you
can see a list of the needed documents here:

Your wife's British citizenship: "The wife or husband of a British
citizen may apply for naturalisation after living in the United
Kingdom legally for three years. The applicant's stay must not be
subject to any time limit on the date of application; the applicant
must be 18 or over and not of unsound mind, but does not have to meet
the requirements to have sufficient knowledge of the language and to
intend to live in the United Kingdom once naturalised. He or she must
be of good character, however." Source:

If you or your future wife would want to, you can change your name by
presenting the marriage documents + a passport at the South African
consulate/Home Affairs (in the case of your wife); or (in your case)
at the high commissioner or the Home Office.

If you need more details, you might want to contact the IND at this

Further tips and links: -

How I searched for you: I was asked about immigration laws several
times before (in my site or in other forums,
not here), so I knew the best addresses are usually the Home Office
(or equivalent) and the consulates, as well as immigration
authorities. After checking out the laws posed here, I also checked
for advices and tips from "real" people in forums, as you can see. I
searched google both in their regular search engine
(:// but also in their groups engine, where you can
find discussion groups messages (

I hope that helped and I wish you luck and happiness in your marriage.
Please contact me if you need anything else.
Subject: Re: South African bride to marry a UK citizen and settle in the UK
From: marvin-ga on 22 Jun 2002 04:47 PDT
I am unable to provide an answer as yet because my account has not
been approved, but here are some guidelines:
Spouses of UK citizens may come to the UK, and are able to work as
soon as a visa is granted. However, in order to prevent the abuse of
this category, the Government imposes a number of conditions:

In the first place, a visa will generally be granted for only one
year. At the end of this time, if the marriage subsists, permanent
residence will usually be granted. After a total period of three years
in the UK, a candidate may then apply for UK nationality
The UK citizen must have actually met their non-UK spouse (this is to
prevent arranged marriages)
The couple must intend to live together permanently
The couple must possess sufficient funds to keep themselves and their
dependants without recourse to public funds
Accommodation for the couple, and any dependants, must be available.
Spouses seeking to come to the UK on the basis of marriage to a UK
national should apply for entry clearance before entering the UK see
fiancée below.
Children of the marriage who are under 18 years old are allowed entry
to the UK as dependants, and can make their application at the same
time as the main applicant.

See rest of page here
Subject: Re: South African bride to marry a UK citizen and settle in the UK
From: dannyboy-ga on 22 Jun 2002 05:18 PDT

I can tell you exactly what is needed as I married my South African
bride on December 15th 2001. I am also a British Citizen by birth.

We also got married in South Africa, in Grahamstown in the Eastern
Cape, as all her family is there. Because of this I fully understand
your situation, and had great 'fun' trying to organise everything
myself... we are now happily married and live in Peterborough in the
UK, so I guess all the hassle was worth it!

You don't need any documentation yourself to get married in South
Africa. It is advised you make sure your passport is handy though!
This is more in case the registrar wants proof of who you are,
although in most cases the word of the bridal family is enough. Some
people will tell you that you need a 'Police Clearance', or a copy of
your Criminal Record, clean or not. This is, however, not true... as
long as you don't plan on marrying in South Africa and immediately
settling there. More to the point, you may need some documentation
when applying for your new wife's Visa, I will mention this in more
detail later.

A South African marriage, as long as it is a proper and lawful
marriage in South Africa, is fully recognised in the UK. You will need
a proper registrar to ratify your wedding. We used a local South
African Anglican vicar who was officially registered for marriages,
and he had to do some 'legal' vows in addition to our normal ones.

The Visa your new wife will need to return to the UK is called 'Entry
Clearance', and is applied for at the British High Commission in
Pretoria. Realistically, you can only apply for this once you are
married and have your marriage certificate. You can apply for this
Visa by post but it can take 4-6 weeks, and South African post is not
the safest for vital documents. Couriers are expensive. A better
solution is to go to the High Commission yourselves. My wife and I did
this early on a morning, ensuring we took all out documents, fees etc
with us, and left the Commission later that day with the Visa safely
in my wife's passport.

The documents you need to take to the High Commission include your
marriage certificate (original), wife's passport and birth
certificate. They will also like to see some photos of the wedding to
show that it took place properly. The Entry Clearance Visa will not
allow your wife to draw Social Security benfits for the first year,
and so she will be dependant upon you. Therefore, they will want proof
of your employment in the UK, and proof that she has a place to live.
A good idea is to get her put on the title deeds of the house, or the
rental agreement of a let. It ios advised to get a letter from your UK
employer detailing your salary etc. For a full list of the documents
you need, talk to the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) at
the British Home Office, or even better speak to a British Consulate
or High Commission in South Africa. We found the consulate in Port
Elizabeth very helpful. Make sure you take originals and photocopies
to the High Commission, they will look at both and certify the copies,
then return the originals to you.

Phone ahead and make sure you have more than enough South African
Rands to pay the Visa fee, as the fee is actually in pounds converted
to Rand. This means that it can fluctuate from day to day. Each
morning they post up the fee in Rands on a notice board at the High
Commission, and they will not accept pounds sterling (ironically).

Before they issue the Visa they may require you for an interview, so
make sure that you have a couple of days free after you apply to be
available for interview. You can try to prevent this by having all the
documents available that they need, and more if possible. My wife and
I were not interviewed, which is why we got our Visa the same day.

The Entry Clearance Visa allows your wife to work freely and gives her
unlimited access to the UK. She is not technically an EU citizen
though, so she will need Visas to visit continental Europe, etc.

After being in the UK for one year, you can apply for your wife to
have a 'Right to Remain', basically a right of abode. I believe she is
then entitled to any Social Security Benefits too. I can't advise you
on this too much though as my wife and I still need to apply for this
in six months!

One other thing: until you're married, you can apply for your fiancée
to come to the UK on a compassionate Visa. These seem to be fairly
hard to get, but if your fiancée is currenly in SA and missing you
badly, it might be worth applying.

There is so much more I could tell you and advise you about! I guess
if there's any more questions then post them here or email me at

My wife and I will do all we can to advise you from our own knowledge
and experience.



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