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How to Become a European Resident Through Marriage

Question: How can a UK citizen marry a non EU citizen in Europe? Answer: Hello Chloe, It seems as if there is only one thing for you to do if you want to get married, stay together, and do everything as legally as possible: return to England and get married in your home country. Getting [...]

Question: How can a UK citizen marry a non EU citizen in Europe?


Hello Chloe,

It seems as if there is only one thing for you to do if you want to get married, stay together, and do everything as legally as possible: return to England and get married in your home country. Getting residency after marriage is rarely every a cut and dry procedure: you don’t just marry someone one day and they can stay in Europe for as long as they want the next. Marriage with the intent of changing residency is  a long process, and, if your boyfriend is already over his Schengen tourist visa I suggest getting out of the region all together.

There are going to be lots of paper work, long waiting periods, a relatively extensive procedure to get through, and, when  it is all over, it is still up to some suit sitting behind a desk to decide if your husband can stay: just because you marry someone does not automatically grant them EU citizenship (or even residency).

But it is possible.

My only advice is to play by the rules, don’t overstay visas, and keep at it. As you are already in the Schengen Zone of Europe, and it seems as if your fiancée is already over his visa,  I would say check into getting him a fiancee visa. Try first in Spain, but if they won’t grant it, I say try to get one for the UK. I know that you can travel through Europe and live pretty much anywhere freely, but it seems to me (from getting a lot of mail about related topics) this may all be easier to do from your home country — the UK.

It seems as if he could get a fiancée visa for the UK without that much difficulty, and once he has this you can go through the other steps of the marriage process step by step without much worry. Within six months of entering the UK with a fiancée visa you need to be married and then he can apply for a two year residency and then make progress towards becoming a permanent resident.

Though there is a good chance that the fiancée visa needs to be applied for while outside of the country, or even in your fiancee’s home country, so this may be probably your biggest obstacle along with getting him through UK immigration with evidence of overstaying a Schengen Visa.

From the UK immigration website:

“When you are married or have registered a civil partnership, you can apply for a two-year extension to your visa and, if your application is granted, you will be allowed to work.”

From my research, it seems as each European country has slightly different rules on transforming a fiancée into a permanent resident, but it seems that he will need to have continuous residency in the country you apply for permanent status in for at least two or three years after being married. I am sure that you could probably do all of this while in Spain, but the fact that he is already not legal there could present problems — especially since many European visas need to be applied for outside of the region, often from the applicant’s home country.

So I suggest trying for a fiancée visa to the UK and see what happens from there. If this does not work, a trip to Venezuela could be in order.

Keep in mind that your fiancée could also be looking at a 3 year ban from the Schenen Zone and a potential fine for overstaying his visa.

Helpful articles:

Feel free to ask additional questions through the comment form below, and please let us know how your situation works out. Thanks.

Walk Slow,


Original question about marrying a non-EU citizen in Europe

hello, I am British and my Boyfriend is from Venezuela and holds a Venezuelan passport. We have been together for over a year and now want to get married in Spain where we have recently moved. In the last year we have traveled to many places (US,Venezuela,UK) We entered Zurich (the Schengen Zone) via the Uk in April this year and then spent some time in Germany and Austria. We decided that we wanted to live in Spain to settle there and that we wanted to get married. We did all the relevant paperwork required for marriage in Spain and those papers have been excepted by the registry office.only to find out that we would have to wait almost 6 months for a our wedding date. So we started looking at other countries where we could marry without such a long wait. On enquiring at Gibraltar registry office we were told that my partner has overstayed his Schengen Visa as his passport was stamped in Zurich in April and on entering Spain Via Girona airport noone was even there to check passports. They were concerned that if we married in Gibraltar that he could get stuck in Gibraltar when he trys to enter Spain again because Spain (the Schengen zone) may notice that he had overstayed prior to his wedding. That they may not let him enter even though he would have a marriage certificate to a European citizen in his hand. Now we are in a complete panic. We are very much in love and only want to reside happily together and are both living in fear of being seperated. Please could let us know what you think?

Many thanks,


Do you have a Schengen visa question?

If so, then take a look at our Schengen visa community forum. It’s a community just for people who have questions or concerns related to Europe’s Schengen immigration zone.
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Filed under: England, Europe, Schengen Visas, Spain, Travel Help, Visas

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 83 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3215 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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