Updates, commentary, training and advice on immigration and asylum law

More rule changes and spouse visa age travesty


Older content is locked

A great deal of time and effort goes into producing the information on Free Movement, become a member of Free Movement to get unlimited access to all articles, and much, much more


By becoming a member of Free Movement, you not only support the hard-work that goes into maintaining the website, but get access to premium features;

  • Single login for personal use
  • FREE downloads of Free Movement ebooks
  • Access to all Free Movement blog content
  • Access to all our online training materials
  • Access to our busy forums
  • Downloadable CPD certificates

Yet more changes to the rules. Haven’t had a chance to look properly as I am on my way to Liverpool right now but the press release suggests tightening up of Tiers 1 and 2 and a further spouse visa age travesty. The full Statement of Changes to the rules is here.

Almost unbelievably, members of the armed forces get an exemption to the 21+ spouse visa rule. Good for them, but why waive the rules for them? Because our lads would never be involved with forced marriages? Or because the working classes (seems so old fashioned to use that term) tend to marry younger, so it affects squaddies disproportionately, so the army grandees have had a bit of a word with Phil? I’ve just today reassured a friend I’ll try and stop writing posts when angry but, good grief, IT AFFECTS ETHNIC MINORITIES DISPROPORTIONATELY! Otherwise known as racism. If only ethnic minorities had the same level of access to Ministers. This really does expose the rule for what it is.

Comes into effect 6 and 7 April 2010.

Relevant articles chosen for you
Picture of Free Movement

Free Movement

The Free Movement blog was founded in 2007 by Colin Yeo, a barrister at Garden Court Chambers specialising in immigration law. The blog provides updates and commentary on immigration and asylum law by a variety of authors.


29 Responses

  1. I suspect we will see a legal challenge against just the spouse of armed forces benefiting from the visa rules.

    1. I should think so. I’m pleased for the armed forces, but what about everyone else?

    1. A. Ethnic minorities somewhat more likely to want to marry foreign spouse
      B. British Asian community more likely to get married and more likely to get married early. May well be true for other communities. Would like to see data before relying on this point properly though.

  2. Is it a political strategy by Phil to show he is very caring towards the armed forces or a backdoor policy for further recruitment in the army?.I suppose the first claim is stronger with all the cuts lurking around like sharks ready to kill.

  3. It’s a reasonable exemption in my eyes. The armed forces have strict rules about who can live in Forces accommodation. I believe you have to be a spouse or civil partner of a soldier to stay there. The military doesn’t want loads of randoms and short term partners hanging around, compromising base security and military discipline.

    So yes, I think it’s absolutely fair to have an exemption for soldiers – so that young soldiers can have their wives living with them, before they go and get their legs blown off, or a bullet in the head.

    And I wasn’t aware that there was an intrinsic quality of being an ethnic minority which made one tend to marry earlier. The law applies equally to everybody. Soldiers from ethnic minorities get to marry earlier – what’s racist about that?

    1. The law does not apply equally to everyone – members of the armed forces get an exemption to a law that applies to everyone else. Great for them — I can’t emphasise enough that I’m pleased for them — but what about everyone else? Why is this law so necessary in the first place? The Home Office claim the sole purpose of the change is to prevent forced marriages but research suggests that it only endangers young people by forcing them to go and live abroad to be with their spouses. If it is about reducing immigration, the Home Office should say so, and we can have a debate about that. Many suspect that it is about reducing immigration, and that the Home Office is simply not admitting it.

    2. It seems to me that fiance/spouse appeals are often won on human rights grounds.One would imagine nearly all refusals will be appealed, and at some expense to the Home Office and immigration system.
      Taking the above into account it’s feasible that it’s more about reducing immigration than anything else.
      Knowing how difficult it was to get a fiance visa,and how much effort we both had to put in (both here and across the water)I can’t see how it would ever work if one of us were unwilling.There’s an online form to complete,biometrics taken,stacks of evidence to provide and often an interview for the applicant.
      The clearance officers are shrewd suspicious people at the best of times.Are there really so many reluctant spouses coming through?And if so what percentage were under 21? To my mind the problem needs addressing for all ages as nobody should be forced to marry.

  4. how about exemptions for armed forces and genuine couples please?! I Can’t believe this. me and my partner have been affected by the age increase and are currently living appart we’re both very depressed. It is good our armed forces are getting special treatment… but it makes me feel like us law abiding Civilians are not important.

  5. Probably only applies to a limited number of cases but has anyone had experience of using paragraph 246 (access to a child resident in the UK) of the Rules for under-21 spouses where there is already a British child? ILR after 12 months as well – there must be a catch!

    1. Kitty

      I was told P246 is normally for fathers, the UK accomodation must be exclusively used (ie not shared), and the application be made outside of UK.
      I think there is an implication that the mother must be in receipt of a good level of funds from work or family support, as opposed to benefits.
      The catch may be the percentage of applications being successful, but at least there is a right of appeal.

    2. It’d be tough:

      246. The requirements to be met by a person seeking leave to enter the United Kingdom to exercise access rights to a child resident in the United Kingdom are that:

      (i) the applicant is the parent of a child who is resident in the United Kingdom; and

      (ii) the parent or carer with whom the child permanently resides is resident in the United Kingdom; and

      (iii) the applicant produces evidence that he has access rights to the child in the form of:

      (a) a Residence Order or a Contact Order granted by a Court in the United Kingdom; or

      (b) a certificate issued by a district judge confirming the applicant’s intention to maintain contact with the child; and

      (iv) the applicant intends to take an active role in the child’s upbringing; and

      (v) the child is under the age of 18; and

      (vi) there will be adequate accommodation for the applicant and any dependants without recourse to public funds in accommodation which the applicant owns or occupies exclusively; and

      (vii) the applicant will be able to maintain himself and any dependants adequately without recourse to public funds; and

      Because you’d need to show accommodation and a contact order, as well as the usual.

  6. just wnat to ask is anyone knows is any new immigration rules will come out yet?
    and if any one know what any other immigration paraghrah if we are been married since 2007 and my wife is 19 years now and pragnant what can we do for her to entry to uk as my wife?

  7. Hi It is Imran. I want to know if the marriage visa is going to change to 18 in April 2010. I want to know any answers if the marriage visa is going to change to 18 in April.

    1. No, it’s not, unless you are a serving member of the armed forces here in the UK

    2. Only if you or your spouse (whichever is the British settled person) is a member of the armed forces. Otherwise, you both have to be 21.

  8. hey well at least i know now that it isn’t true that they are changing the law back to 18 for the tax payer of this country who pay the stupid politians and the army their income. have to wait now b4 being together wid some1 i actually care about. maybe we should all start joining the army at least our spouses could get here! it is a very unfair rule and it may intrest the government to know that majority of the forced marriages happen to indivduals who are older than 21 so is the next step to raise the age to 30? is that going to be a more mature age to get married at. i would also like to know the exact number of ppl who have been forced to marry that are 21 or under its nice to have stats thrown at u but the public never know the exact figures do we.
    well im pleased that my friends in the army are not affected by this law hopefully next it will be in favour of the general public!!! stay hopeful

    1. After courting an overstayer,i was advised repeatedly by immigration lawyers that only a fiance/spouse visa was likely to be successful for her re entry to the uk.And even then not guaranteed (which it wasn’t,though that’s another story!)
      Leaving my work,family,house etc to go and live in her country wasn’t a viable option.
      Hey presto! A forced marriage……by the home office!:-)

    2. Indeed, it’s not the most romantic start. I’ve got a friend who found herself in a similar position and while many years later they are still happily married, they had to get married in order to live in one or the other country together.

    3. yes it seems a strict and rigid system they run unfortunately.Though I guess there’s little chance of us changing it,when even our prime minister himself only just takes precedence over it! (ref the gurkha issue last year)

    4. The trouble is that no-one knows the numbers of forced marriages – it’s not something that is easily discovered, for obvious reasons.

      The High Court case stated that:

      “The figures illustrate that forced marriage can occur at any age although the numbers fall sharply from aged 29 onwards. However, it is apparent that the highest number of forced marriage cases (dealt with by the Forced Marriage Unit in the period 2005 – June 2008) involved those aged 18 (72 cases, 10%), followed by those aged 17 and 19 (68 cases each, 9.5% for both ages) and those aged 20 (60 cases, 8.5%).”

      So it appears that 37.5% of known forced marriages involved those under 21.

    5. Under the lib – lab coalition they will apprently Ensure petitions with more than 100,000 signatures eligible for full debate in Parliament.

      Maybe if we get a petition going http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/ which has been written well (Not the normal individual case saying xyz has happened to me and to review the law beacuase of it but a general one for everyone)however its not open yet.

      How about getting in contact with baroness warsi in a good position,shes a Pakistani married at 19 may and will probably understand why this is unfair.

      What do you think?

  9. the exemption for armed forces is really meant for gurkhas – many have wives under 21 but they cant currently get permission to bring their wives with them to their base in the UK.

  10. Well im a Pakistani female, under 21, and a british
    citizen. I decided to go to pakistan to marry someone i liked,
    later fell in love. WAS NOT A FORCED MARRIAGE! I have been affected
    by this more than i thought i would be. This must be against human
    rights or something because I’m pretty sure there are a lot more
    people out there that have been affected by this stupid law!! I
    mean over 21’s stil can get forced into a marriage, its not just
    the young people! the court of appeal have condemned this law
    apparently, but havent seen any official updates on the UK BORDER
    FORCE or GOVERNMENT websites!

    1. i got the same problem but the difference is that i am living here in UK but i can’t apply for my spouse visa because my wife who is British born citizen is still 19 years old.court of Appeal all ready pass the verdict against it but still the home office not follow it its clearly contempt of court.please let me know if it is possible

  11. ive heard that people just go over to pakistan anyway and get married to under 21’s and then they apply for them to get a visa to the uk and fake their age. this is wrong, something shud b done about this.more checks need to be made to make sure that people arent forging the ages of their spouse and conning the system

Or become a member of Free Movement today
Verified by MonsterInsights