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Common law letter, Malaysia..help!

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by GuyMT, Mar 21, 2019.

  1. GuyMT

    GuyMT New commenter

    Hi all,

    I'm due to start a position in august in Malaysia and can't wait. However, my fiancé and I don't marry until late May, by which time I've been told by the school it's too late for them to arrange her visa as well as visas for our two young children.
    They've said the Malaysian authorities will require a letter essentially stating we're in a common law situation / affidavit. I have no idea where to get this though, and it seems the school is unsure too. The Malaysian High Consulate in London said it's up to U.K. Authorities to do but I wasn't sure who to approach. A solicitor told me he could write an affidavit, but would need the exact wording. If anyone's been through something similar I'd love to know! Thanks
  2. harsh-but-fair

    harsh-but-fair Star commenter

    You could always bring your wedding forward ...
  3. blue451

    blue451 Lead commenter

    Quiet registry office wedding asap. You can still do the full shebang in May and you might not even have to tell your guests.
    nomad, 576, gulfgolf and 2 others like this.
  4. taiyah

    taiyah Occasional commenter

    Remember Malaysia is a Muslim country. If push comes to shove that affidavit will mean squat. To be on the safest of sides, get married asap! Because marriages falls under Islamic laws and it will take 1 scorned citizen (expat or local) to get you in trouble. It's a law you wouldn't want to test.
  5. lucyrose50

    lucyrose50 Occasional commenter

    There is no such thing as an affidavit from the UK saying that you are a common-law couple, because the concept of "common-law couple" is not recognised in UK law. We looked into this as a possibility when we were first looking to move overseas, and it's not something that exists in the UK, so I wouldn't try going any further down that road.
    My husband and I got married in early May before going to Malaysia in early August, and there was no difficulty for us with the timing. I know other colleagues who got married even later than that (July, in one case) and still had no problems. If it comes to it, you can both enter the country on tourist visas initially and your school can convert these to the employment/dependent pass afterwards. I believe that's what my school does for everyone anyway, I think it's fairly common practice.
    There are plenty of people living as unmarried couples here, I wouldn't worry about that being an issue especially if you have actually got married before you arrive!
    576 likes this.
  6. gulfgolf

    gulfgolf Established commenter

    Agreed. There should be no timing issue at all. Sounds more like the school wants to keep all new hires on the same visa schedule to make the HR department’s work easier.
    Get married quickly for the paper and enjoy your wedding later as planned.
    Or roll the dice, stick to your plan and hope the school backs down.
  7. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Yes, the OP should just get down to the Registry Office asap.

    The worst HR people I ever came across were in Qatar. "Incompetent" does not even come close. They seemed to take a perverse delight in making things more difficult for the infidel teachers. In China, on the other hand, the HR ladies were wonderful: kind, patient, always on call and never complaining about Mr and Mrs Hippo whose freight was supposed to be in Shenzhen but it actually arrived in Shanghai.
    Monha likes this.
  8. Monha

    Monha Occasional commenter

    yes get registered officially.
    Its recognised in Malaysia.
  9. Helen-Back

    Helen-Back Occasional commenter

    We did a similar thing. Got married in Asia in a government office. Then had a proper wedding, hmmm, two years later back in the home country.
  10. GuyMT

    GuyMT New commenter

    Thanks so much everyone. I knew TES forums would have some advice! That's all very helpful.
  11. rosiecg

    rosiecg Occasional commenter

    Most schools won't accept an unmarried partner as a spouse, however they should still be able to arrange visas for your children as dependents.

    There is no need to worry about not being married in Malaysia other than for visa purposes. The rules around, for example staying in a hotel room together when not married, only apply to local Muslims under religious laws. Everyone else is judged by different laws.
  12. nemo.

    nemo. Occasional commenter

    As stated above no such thing as a common law marriage - a myth. Malaysia though has changed it's stance for visa purposes and rarely allows unmarried couples who can prove they are in a marriage like relationship to have a spouse visa.

    But far far easier to get married early.
  13. GuyMT

    GuyMT New commenter

    Hi again all, for one reason or another, having an early shotgun wedding is not an option for us. I suggested to the school that we come on a tourist visa and they convert to an employment/dependent visa later, but they said in no uncertain terms we'd have to leave the country and return again to do so, then restated that this letter is compulsory. lucyrose50, is that what you had to do? I've now contacted the British High Commission in KL to ask since it seems that if you are actually in situ you can obtain one of these letters.
  14. hairdo

    hairdo Occasional commenter

    Is leaving the country and returning a problem as you are not far from Thailand for a hop over the border.
  15. rosiecg

    rosiecg Occasional commenter

    The British High Commission do not give out these letters. It was hard enough getting them to write a letter confirming I was single/free to marry before I got married earlier this year.
  16. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    I can only add what others have already said, that what the school is suggesting - "a letter essentially stating we're in a common law situation" - cannot be provided because the law in England and Wales does not recognise a common law marriage. No-one can give an affidavit saying you are in something that doesn't (legally) exist in the England and Wales.

    Scottish law is different though. Do you live/co-habit in Scotland?
  17. Sunnyday50

    Sunnyday50 New commenter

    Surely by the time you arrive you will be married, so any letter you did manage to get about your commonlaw status would be out of date anyway. If your school are insisting you get a letter like this but can't suggest where you'd get it from then clearly no other staff have done this - because as other people have said, there's no such thing as legal commonlaw status in England!
  18. lucyrose50

    lucyrose50 Occasional commenter

    I don't know all of the steps my school take to arrange visas, but from my perspective, they collected all of the documents for the visas beforehand (around April I think), I sent them a copy of our marriage certificate when I got it (mid May), all new staff came into Malaysia on tourist visas, then school collected our passports a few days after we arrived and they were sent to wherever does the visas, then returned to us with the visas inside.
    If your school says this isn't possible then send them the documents for you and your kids so they can be getting on with your visa applications, then send them your fiancée's documents and your marriage certificate as soon as you get married. Late May really shouldn't be too early for the visa to be arranged, I've known people be appointed to a last minute post and get their visa sorted with much less time than that. Worst case scenario, you and the kids enter Malaysia on your employment pass and your wife comes in on a tourist visa which is valid for 3 months, the school get her visa arranged, and if she needs to leave and return then you get a £20 flight to Singapore and have a nice weekend away.
    It sounds like your school are being unnecessarily awkward and that they aren't very well informed about the idea of common law status. I'm pretty sure that even if it did legally exist in England so you could get a document confirming it, it wouldn't entitle your fiancée to a dependent visa in Malaysia. Plus the fact that you won't be in a common law relationship when you arrive in Malaysia anyway, you'll be married!
  19. HeroForTheDay

    HeroForTheDay Occasional commenter

    I'd reiterate the first point but would dispute the second one. When I married my (Asian - none British) wife she entered on a tourist visa, we were married in Malaysia and then she had to leave Malaysia for 14 days, re enter Malaysia on a 3 month single entry visa and then convert to the dependent pass.. The alternative is to convert the tourist visa into a layover visa but that costs about (IIRC) 700rm ~ 140 quid.. In her case, the converted tourist visa was the equivalent of the cost for 2 weeks at home - hence why so she left. However, your wife wouldn't get a dependent spousal visa over the course of a weekend. It is somewhat different if she is being employed by the school but this is the process if she's coming as a dependent.

    Secondly, you would save a huge amount of hassle just getting a registry office marriage early to get the certificate but if that's not an option then I'd avoid getting housing through your school if you're not married. I was offered separate accommodation for my then fiancé when I first arrived, and another colleague of mine was also declined shared accommodation with his long term partner when he arrived because of the schools religious beliefs, to which your own school may have similar 'concerns', but it seems you will be married by the time your contract starts so it shouldn't be an issue by then

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