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Clare, Solicitor
Category: Immigration Law
Satisfied Customers: 34893
Experience:  I have been a solicitor in High Street Practise since 1985 with a wide general experience.
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A relative is planning to go to Bolivia to meet with his fiancee

Customer Question

A relative is planning to go to Bolivia to meet with his fiancee and family who are Bolivian citizens. They got engaged in December 2015 when the fiancee was on a visit visa to the UK. They have met 3 times in total , twice out in Bolivia.
The family there want a religious marriage ceremony for all the family over there and because it would not be accompanied by a civil ceremony, it would not be legal.
They would wish for their daughter , the fiancee to come to the UK and marry legally here.
For this reason, it is proposed to apply for a fiancee visa after the couple have been away on holiday for 2 weeks after the ceremony.
The question is whether the religious ceremony of marriage though not legal in Bolivia, would still be a possible obstacle to the fiancee visa being applied for from there and whether this marriage ceremony, though not legal in Bolivia could still be an obstacle to them marrying in this country if the fiancee was allowed in, as a previous marriage that might be considered to have some validity in English/Welsh law.
The Registrar's office says that they would not pronounce on the validity of a marriage, that would be for a Court, but that they would have to be satisfied with some proof that the marriage was not legal in Bolivia but nevertheless it would be for the Home Office to decide whether it be regarded as legal or not .
The question is therefore as to what proof might be sought to establish the marriage ceremony was not legal and whether even if it was decided it was not legal, it could still affect adversely any application to be allowed to marry in England/Wales.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Immigration Law
Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.
HiThank you for your question My name is ***** ***** I shall do my best to help you.There are a number of other countries where a Religious Ceremony is not a legal marriage (including in mosques in the UK)On that basis the Ceremony in Bolivia has no legal force in the Uk either and does not need to be declared to the Registrar hereYou do not need a decision from the Home Office - but you should declare the Ceremony when you apply for the Fiancee Visa.I hope that this is of assistance - please ask if you need further detailsClare
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Do you need to prove to the Home Office (Entry Clearance Officer) or the Registrar in the UK that the religious ceremony is not valid/legal in Bolivia and if so, how might this be done?
Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.
No the Home Office are well aware of the laws in different countries
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
When interviewed by the Registrar, they will be asked if they have been through a previous ceremony of marriage and if they truthfully say there has been this previous religious marriage ceremony in Bolivia, the Registrar's Office have indicated they would have to enquire into it and it would be for the applicants to prove that the marriage was not legal and possibly to supply a Government document of some kind from Bolivia to substantiate this and perhaps also a letter from the Church confirming that no civil ceremony took place.
In another conversation with the Registrar's office, an adviser said they do not pronounce on what is a valid marriage and it may be for a Court to decide. In this conversation, they said that although the marriage ceremony is not legal in Bolivia, it could still fulfil the elements of a marriage according to English law and it may be for a Court to decide if the issue had to be clarified.
Is there any way of satisfying the Registrar whilst being truthful about the previous religious marriage ceremony in Bolivia, without raising the risk of a Court case to clarify it? Can you give more detail on this.
Many thanks
Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.
If the marriage is not legal in the country in which it takes place then then it cannot be legal in the UK - so clearly there is some confusion.There will be no need for a Court Case.To avoid any confusion I suggest that your son's faience gets a letter from a Bolivian Lawyer confirming the Bolivian marriage laws
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I know it seems obvious if the marriage is not legal in Bolivia, it should be not legal here but the Registrar's office are saying that even though not legal in Bolivia, it could still be regarded as a marriage here for example if vows are exchanged and the couple then live together, there may be sufficient elements of a marriage to constitute a legal marriage here.
I just wonder if you are sufficiently addressing this. Many thanks if you can.
Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.
It is very difficult to fully understand exactly what has been said to you as actually the law is very clear on this.The Uk all only recognise a marriage if it is legally valid in the country in which it takes placeThis was why it transpired that Mick Jagger and ***** ***** were never actually marriedYou can read more here