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Well, question is pretty much entirely in the title. We will probably hire a lawyer later on, but I want to figure out as much as possible before everything else on my own.

The situation and plan is as follows - we are in a long distance relationship for 2 years as of now. I've finished my studies in Russia and have nothing keeping me here, he is already working and living on his own. With this, we now want to meet face to face in the UK and see if we are both fine with each other and living together in real life. After a month or so, if everything is fine, we want to enter a civil partnership and just keep living normally.

As of now we have our eyes on visitor and family visas. However, family visa statements are very confusing. It says I can switch to a family visa to stay with spouse and partner if I came to the UK on a different visa. Then, under the "When you can not get a family visa" it says that i can't get family visa if i'm a visitor. But then it also states that i can switch to a family visa if I have 6-months family visa as a fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner. This bureaucratic hell is both confusing to me and my BF.

  1. Did I understand it correctly - are family visa and 6-month family visa considered to be separate entities and the last sentence just simply mentions that "marriage before 6 months" rule of a family visa again?
  2. If my understanding was actually incorrect - Is it, then, possible to switch visitor visa to 6-month family visa without me leaving the UK?
  3. It would not be ideal, but, is it possible to use 6-months family visa as a substitue for a visitor visa for our plans on simply seeing each other before entering civil partnership or a marriage? Would my boyfriend face any consequences in the worst case scenario where we end up not wanting to live with each other IRL and i end up leaving within 6 months?
  4. Are there any exemptions for gay people when it comes to visas for a marriage? Entirety of our problems stems from the fact that we are incredibly afraid of me staying and doing anything related to our gay marriage while i'm in Russia, that is why ideal scenario would be to come to UK as a visitor, and, without leaving, settiling marriage stuff right there.

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TL:DR If your intention is to marry and live in the UK, apply for a Family visa. There is no route to switch from either of the Visitor visa categories to a Family visa from within the UK.

There are no exemptions from visa requirements for gay people when it comes to marriage, the same Immigration rules apply to everyone. If you look at your visa options, you can apply to come to the UK as:

  • a tourist for up to 6 months, with a Standard Visitor visa. You must be able to show that you’ll leave at the end of your visit, ” I've finished my studies in Russia and have nothing keeping me here” doesn’t sound as if you will be able to do that easily. You can’t switch to another visa type as a visitor and you should not apply for a Visitor visa if your purpose in coming to the UK is to marry. However, once in the UK as a visitor you can still give notice of your intention to get married or form a civil partnership but the immigration authorities at the Home Office will be told and the notice may not be approved. https://www.gov.uk/marriages-civil-partnerships Gaining approval and marrying does not change the prohibition against switching from a Visitor to another category visa from within the UK, however

  • a Marriage Visitor. This visa allows you to stay in the UK for up to 6 months to get married or enter into a civil partnership in the UK. It has the same constraints about showing you’ll leave as the Visitor visa, and you must satisfy UKVI that you’re in a genuine relationship. I may have misunderstood but your question implies you and your boyfriend have never met face to face. If so, your application may be refused.

  • a partner, via a Family visa. This allows you to come to the UK to marry/enter a civil partnership and to live in the UK permanently (eventually). It costs £1,523 to apply plus £624 per year health surcharge. Amongst other eligibility criteria, you and your boyfriend will have to prove you’re in a genuine relationship, and have a combined income of at least £18,600 a year. You cannot switch to a Family visa from within the UK if your original visa was for 6 months or less https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/immigration/getting-a-visa-for-your-partner-to-live-in-the-uk/. There are no immediate ‘consequences’ (other than the initial expense and extra paperwork) for ending up not using this visa AFAIK, however it might harm the credibility of any future UK visa applications.

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    "once in the UK as a visitor...": Marrying or forming a civil partnership doesn't change the prohibition against changing to another visa, however; it's still necessary to leave the country. It might be worthwhile to mention this explicitly.
    – phoog
    Oct 9, 2021 at 9:08
  • If they're worried about political prosecution in their home country if they engage in a homosexual relationship, wouldn't that be a mark against them in the Marriage Visitor visa, since they have an incentive not to leave after 6 months?
    – nick012000
    Oct 9, 2021 at 16:59
  • @nick012000 Maybe. But the application doesn’t ask about such concerns and I would imagine the OP would not volunteer the information to UKVI. The implication that this is an online relationship so far is likely a much bigger barrier to a successful MVV.
    – Traveller
    Oct 9, 2021 at 17:34

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