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COA

Version 04/2007

APPLYING ON FORM COA : GUIDANCE NOTES


If you are planning to apply for a certificate of approval for marriage or civil partnership in the United Kingdom
(UK) on form COA, please read these guidance notes before making your application.

Our telephone services

IMMIGRATION ENQUIRY BUREAU APPLICATION FORMS UNIT

Tel: 0870 606 7766 Tel: 0870 241 0645

Monday to Thursday: 9.00 - 4.45 Monday to Thursday: 9.00 - 4.45


Friday: 9.00 - 4.30 Friday: 9.00 - 4.30

For general information and appointments at our For application forms only
public enquiry offices

Our Public Enquiry Offices (for premium service applications) - not available for COA applications

CROYDON BIRMINGHAM GLASGOW LIVERPOOL


Public Enquiry Office Public Enquiry Office Public Enquiry Office Public Enquiry Office
Lunar House Dominion Court Festival Court Reliance House
40 Wellesley Road 41 Station Road 200 Brand Street 20 Water Street
Croydon Solihull Govan Liverpool
CR9 2BY Birmingham Glasgow G51 1DH L2 8XU
B91 3RT
Monday to Thursday: Monday to Friday
Monday to Friday: Monday to Friday: 8.30 - 4.30 8.30 - 4.00
8.00 - 4.00 9.00 - 4.00 Friday: 8.30 - 4.00
Tel: 0870 606 7766 Tel: 0870 606 7766 Tel: 0870 606 7766 Tel: 0870 606 7766
(appointments only) (appointments only) (appointments only) (appointments only)

Our website address


www.bia.homeoffice.gov.uk
Guidance Notes
1 FOR WHICH APPLICATIONS IS FORM COA TO BE USED? 2 QUALIFYING FOR A CERTIFICATE OF APPROVAL

This form is to be used only if you are applying for a certificate One of the criteria for being issued with a COA is that your cur-
of approval (COA) for marriage or civil partnership in the UK. rent leave to enter or remain in the UK has to be for more than
6 months and you must have at least 3 months of that leave
If you are subject to immigration control do not have indefi- remaining when you make your COA application.
nite leave to enter or remain in the UK, and did not enter the
UK with one of the visas specified in the paragraph below, If you have valid leave to be in the UK but not leave which
you must have a COA in order to marry in a Register Office. meets the criteria, or alternatively you have no valid leave, you
may still apply but, to comply with High Court and Court of
You don’t need a COA if you entered the UK with a valid visa Appeal judgments, we may write to you for further information
as a fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner, or as a marriage visi- to help us decide whether your proposed marriage or civil part-
tor or a civil partnership visitor. nership is genuine - see page 4 of these guidance notes.

You must be in the UK to apply.


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APPLYING ON FORM COA : GUIDANCE NOTES
An application on this form is not an application for leave to 7 COMPLETING THE FORM
remain in the UK. If your COA application is successful, it does
not mean that a subsequent application for leave to remain on Please note the following guidance and information when you
the basis of the marriage or civil partnership will automatical- complete the form.
ly be granted. Any such application will be decided on its mer-
its. Use a black pen to complete the form - and capital letters for
names, addresses and similar details.
Please also note that, under the relevant immigration rules, an
application for leave to remain on the basis of marriage or civil Complete all sections as required,
partnership will be refused if the applicant is under the age of
18. Payment details Follow the guidance provided on page 2 of
the form when completing the payment details.
3 WHO CAN APPLY ON THIS FORM?
Section 1 This is where you give your own details. Leave a
Only the person applying for a COA. space between each name or part of the address(es) required
in this section (do the same where names and addresses are
If your fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner also needs a COA, required in other sections).
he or she must apply separately and pay the prescribed fee.
Sections 1 and 2 It’s essential that you provide the photo-
4 THE FEE graphs of yourself and your fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner.
Use one staple or paper clip in each person’s case to attach
You have to pay to apply on this form. The specified fee for them within the spaces provided. Do not use glue or any other
applications made by post is £295. The same-day service at sticky adhesive. See part 8 below for more guidance on photo-
our Public Enquiry Offices is not available for COA applications. graphs.

If you do not pay the specified fee, the application will be If there is any difference between the personal details in these
incomplete and will be returned to you. sections and those contained in your passport or travel docu-
ment, we will always use those given in the passport or travel
We will not refund the fee if we refuse the application or if you document when issuing a certificate of approval.
withdraw it.
All sections If you are at present unable to provide any of the
For information about methods of payment, please see the information or details requested in any of the sections, please
payment details guidance on page 2 of the form. explain the reasons in a letter with the application form. If you
need help with any of the questions, you can seek advice by
For more information about the current fees, please go to our telephoning 0870 606 7766.
website.
Section 6 This section lists the documents and photographs
5 WHEN TO APPLY which you have to provide. If you can’t provide any of the doc-
uments specified in the application form, please explain why
You normally have to apply at least 3 months before your exist- in a letter with the form and say when you will be able to pro-
ing leave to enter or remain in the UK expires, and you need to vide them. See part 9 below for more guidance on documents.
have been given that leave for a period longer than 6 months.
Ensure that your passport or other travel document is signed
6 MAKING SURE YOUR APPLICATION IS COMPLETE as required.

Your application will be delayed if it is incomplete. To ensure Section 7 You and your fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner must
that it is complete you must: sign and date the declarations. If you don’t, it will delay your
application.
pay the specified fee
8 PHOTOGRAPHS
make it on the current version of form COA

provide the photographs of yourself and your fiancé(e) or pro- You must provide the following photographs:
posed civil partner
Two identical passport-size photographs of yourself with your
provide all documents specified in the form name written on the back of each photograph.
complete all sections of the form as required Two identical passport-size photographs of your fiancé(e) or
proposed civil partner, with their name written on the back of
sign and date the declarations in the form (you and your each photograph.
fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner).
The photographs should be in colour, taken recently (within the
If your fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner is abroad, they still last month), and approximately 45 millimetres high and 35
need to sign and date the form and provide photographs millimetres wide, the size of a passport photo.
of themselves. We also need evidence of the immigration sta-
tus of the person coming from abroad, ie that they have a Each photograph must show the individual’s full face clearly
fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner visa. against a light background. Sunglasses are not acceptable.

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APPLYING ON FORM COA : GUIDANCE NOTES
Nor is any head covering unless this has to be worn for reli- as instructed below.
gious or cultural reasons. But if the covering conceals the face,
this will not be acceptable. To send us more information about your application, write to
the following address (not the one to which you posted your
If your application is successful, the photographs provided will application):
be reproduced in the certificate of approval issued to you.
Initial Consideration Unit - COA
9 DOCUMENTS Border and Immigration Agency
Lunar House
Documents provided with the application must be originals. 40 Wellesley Road
Croydon
CR9 2BY
Exceptionally, a certified copy may be acceptable. The copy
must be certified by the body or authority which issued the and give the following details in you letter:
original (for example, a copy of a savings book certified by the
building society or bank), or by a notary. The reasons for pro- the applicant’s full name, date of birth and nationality
viding a certified copy rather than the original document must
be explained in a covering letter. any Recorded or Special Delivery number

the date on which the application was posted


Generally speaking, it is unlikely that we will be able to grant
your application without seeing the original documents. the Home Office reference number, if you have one.

10 APPLYING BY POST - THE ADDRESS If you need your passport because you have to travel urgently
and unexpectedly, call 0870 606 7766 and provide the per-
The address to which you must post an application on form sonal and other details listed immediately above.
COA is:
You may withdraw your passport for travel before your applica-
Border and Immigration Agency tion is decided without withdrawing your application. However,
Leave to Remain - COA on your return, you will need to satisfy an immigration oficer
PO Box 504 that you are entitled to be readmitted to the UK. You will also
Durham need to be here in person in order to give notice of your intend-
DH99 1WE
ed marriage or civil partnership to a registrar in England and
Wales.
Posting it to any other address will delay it. This address is only
to be used when sending your application.
13 OBTAINING APPLICATION FORMS
Please use the address given in part 12 for any other corre-
You can obtain application forms from our Application Forms
spondence about your application.
Unit on 0870 241 0645 or from our website.
If you use Recorded or Special Delivery, this will help us to
14 OTHER TELEPHONE ENQUIRIES
record the receipt of your application. Please make sure that
you keep the Recorded or Special Delivery number.
For enquiries other than obtaining an application form, call
0870 606 7766.
We will return your passport(s) and other documents by
Recorded Delivery. If you would like them to be returned by
We also have the following freephone textphone number:
Special Delivery, you must provide a prepaid Special Delivery
0800 38 98 28 9.
envelope big enough for the documents to be returned.
15 CHOOSING AN IMMIGRATION ADVISER
11 DECISION TIMES
If you engage an immigration adviser, take care in choosing
Our current published service standards for deciding charged
one. The Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner
applications made by post are to decide 70% within 4 weeks
(OISC) regulates immigration advisers. The OISC website at
(20 working days) and 90% within 14 weeks (70 working
www.oisc.gov.uk contains a list of authorised advisers. It also
days).
has links to websites for solicitors, barristers and legal
executives. If you have a complaint about an immigration
Applications which take longer to decide are those which are
adviser or need other information, the OISC contact details
not straightforward and/or which require further enquires.
are:
These include applications by people who have remained here
unlawfully after the expiry of their leave. Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner
5th Floor,
As we can’t tell in advance how long it will take to decide par- Counting House
ticular cases, our general advice to applicants is not to make 53 Tooley Street
any non-urgent travel arrangements until their passport(s) or London
travel document(s) are returned to them. SE1 2QN

12 CONTACTING US AFTER YOU HAVE APPLIED Telephone: 0845 000 0046

If you need to contact us after you have applied, please do so


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APPLYING ON FORM COA : GUIDANCE NOTES
Alternatively the Law Society, which regulates solicitors in 17 DATA PROTECTION NOTICE
England and Wales, can help you find a solicitor. You can con-
tact them on 0870 606 6575 or visit their website at: We will treat all information provided by you in confidence but
www.lawsociety.org.uk may disclose it to other government departments, agencies,
local authorities, the police, foreign governments and other
If you wish to complain about a solicitor you can contact the bodies for immigration purposes or to enable them to perform
Law Society’s Consumer Complaints Service helpline on 0845 their functions.
608 6565 or write to them at:
We may also use the information provided by you for training
The Law Society purposes.
Victoria Court
8 Dormer Place The information in the Payment Details page will be known to
Leamington Spa the private contractor engaged by the Home Office to process
Warwickshire
application payments.
CV32 5AE

16 COMPLAINTS ABOUT OUR SERVICE

If you need advice on how to make a complaint about our serv-


ice, please call 0870 241 6523 or visit our website.

You may complain in writing to:

BIA Customer Focus Team


PO Box 1384
Croydon
CR9 3YJ

Or by email to: bia.cu@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR COA APPLICANTS WHO HAVE VALID LEAVE BUT NOT LEAVE WHICH MEETS THE CRITERIA OR WHO
HAVE NO VALID LEAVE

Following High Court and Court of Appeal judgments, procedures were introduced in 2006 for applicants who have valid leave to
enter or remain in the UK when applying for a COA but not leave which meets the published COA criteria, and in 2007 further pro-
cedures were introduced for applicants with no valid leave at the time of the application. If you are such an applicant, we may write
to you after receiving your application in order to obtain information and supporting evidence to enable us to be satisfied that your
proposed marriage or civil partnership is genuine. Any such letter will ask for information about the following:

When, where and how you and your fiancé(e)/proposed civil partner met

When you decided to marry or enter into a civil partnership

Where you intend to live if permitted to marry or enter into a civil partnership in the UK

Arrangements for any religious ceremony, including the nature of the ceremony, the name of the person conducting it and rel-
evant contact details

Arrangements for any reception or celebration, including location, proof of booking and relevant contact details

Your relationship with your fiancé(e)/proposed civil partner if you are not living together (eg letters and photographs as evidence
of the relationship)

Your life with your fiancé(e)/proposed civil partner if you are living together, including the address(es), how long you have lived
together, and documentary evidence in the form of correspondence addressed to both of you at the same address from
gas/electricity/water companies, government bodies, local authorities, financial institutions etc

Any children from your and your fiancé(e)/proposed civil partner's present or previous relationships, including where they now
live, the length of time any of them have lived with you, the names of their natural parents and who supports them

Contact telephone numbers for yourself and your fiancé(e)/proposed civil partner in case we need to contact either of you

Any additional information about yourself and your fiancé(e)/proposed civil partner which you would like us to know about,
and/or any additional supporting evidence or documentation which might help your application.

The letter asking for this information will explain that your answers will have to be provided in separate affidavits clearly signed
and dated by you and your fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner. An affidavit is a written statement signed on oath and witnessed by
a qualified solicitor or notary public.

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