Getting married, it seems, continues to grow in difficulty. The sheer quantity of red tape and bureaucratic hurdles that must be navigated seems to increase every time that we turn around.
Hurdle number one was the French government. Although we are not getting married in France, as Karen is French they must approve our nupitals before allowing us to go ahead. This involved, amongst other things, submitting to them birth certificates that had been issued during the last few months.
This meant I had to order mine from overseas, leading us to the Canadian set of hurdles — the government needed to know various details about my birth of which I was unsure. Moreover, the online form provided did not state outright what information was needed — there was a new surprise on each page of the multi-page application. This meant nearly two weeks of partially filling out an application and quitting partway through to search out information that was not at my fingertips.
With France and Canada out of the way, we turned to the United Kingdom. The registration process seemed pretty straight-forward, so I should have known that we were missing something. Can’t get hitched without hitches, can we?
That something was the Home Office.
As a person who does not have permanent residency in the United Kingdom, I need to seek permission from the Home Office (who monitor immigration) in order to get married here. At first blush, this might seem to be reasonable — people can and do stay in the country by virtue of marriage, after all — but on further analysis it begins to appear silly.
First, I only need to do this as somebody who is living in the UK legally and intending to get married in the UK. The British government has no say as to who I marry should I go to France, Canada or Las Vegas (amongst other locations), and my visa status would permit me re-entry after the fact. Were I illegal, my application would be pointless, and my time would be better spent not drawing the Home Office’s attention to my predicament.
In other words, I am permitted to leave, marry a permanent resident of the UK and return without their permission; after this I would be seen as married by the Home Office for the purpose of any application I make.
Second, the alternative visa statuses for a married person are no more or less advantageous than my own is. The same rules and fees apply. In fact, it would take longer and cost more to switch my visa status over to the “due to marriage category” before applying for permanent residency in the UK.
Additionally, I would need to apply for such a visa — which means that the Home Office could then determine whether I was really married, or had a sham marriage for the purpose of remaining in the country.
In summary, the Home Office cannot prevent me from getting married by denying permission, my immigration status does not depend on whether or not Karen and I marry, and if it did (or ever does) they will have an opportunity to review my case at that time.
So why does the government insist that I must have the Home Office’s approval before they will allow Karen and I to get married in the UK? As with all things Home Office, my passport must be surrendered while they consider my application, and the waiting period for these applications is four to fourteen weeks.
That three month waiting period is going to be as excruciating as it is pointless. It will interfere with vacations and work, and generally destroys any opportunity Karen and I have to plan this thing.
Wedding delayed due to mindless bureaucracy that serves no apparent function.
Mr. Cameron: You seem concerned about my marital status. I’m anxious to fix it for you, if you would just get out of my way.