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Spouse and partner visa concession


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forced-marriageUKBA have announced a limited concession to the rise in the visa age to 21 for spouses and partners. The concession is simply that the rule will not be applied to spouses and partners seeking entry to accompany or join immigrants in the temporary visa categories, such as students or Points Based Scheme migrants. The rise will continue apply to spouses and partners accompanying or joining persons present and settled in the UK.

This is rather odd, to put it mildly. It looks a lot like the reverse discrimination commenters on this blog have legitimately raised with regards to Metock and EEA citizens, where British citizens have far less extensive rights to be joined or accompanied by family members. Temporary migrants can be joined by spouses and partners under 21; British citizens and those with ILR cannot.

And how does this concession fit with the stated aim of reducing forced marriages? No explanation is given as to how this is consistent with the supposed aim, nor can I imagine reasons justifying how it fits with it at all. In my opinion, the concession further highlights the real aim of this discriminatory measure: preventing British Asians and minorities from marrying abroad.

The concession will be more grist for the legal mill when challenges against refusals start to come through. I reiterate my earlier opinion: anyone refused on the basis of being between the ages of 18 and 21 who can show they are not party to a forced marriage (which is pretty easy to do!) has a very strong case based on human rights and discrimination law.

Forced marriages are appalling and a very serious issue, but this is not the way to deal with the problem. It is disproportionate and disingenuous.

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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.


23 Responses

  1. Major Tom to ground control…..can you hear me? This is all very odd, and as you say very discriminatory.

    FM – Do you think it’ll take a House of Lords ruling to undo this latest Phil’l fix it? Or will the AIT/High Court step in and make a sensible ruling along the lines you suggest appeals would run on?

  2. Presumably the underlying HO principle is about “being able” to refuse and return both migrants in the future, without ECHR getting in the way.

    The predictions about AIT workloads appear to be coming true, as 8,000 judges are recruited. I wonder what the proportions will be for dealing with cases caused by Mr Woolas’ recent decisions. What a “non-value added” waste!

  3. I thought the entry clearance rules already contained instruction on interviewing reluctant spouses anyway? Were subjects too scared to admit then or was it too difficult to refuse due to human rights laws? In which case it still will be regardless surely? Just seems to me that whatever they do to change the rules,if it involves family,spouses etc,it always proves unworkable due to the human rights aspect

    1. There are already instructions to ECOs, but that clearly hasn’t solved the problem, as the news today highlights. However, the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007 came into force in November and provides enhanced protection and mechanisms for securing return, and wardship proceedings also provide a proven mechanism for assisting victims of forced marriages.

      The news today highlights the example of a lady in her thirties and the stats relied on by the Home Office suggest that 16 and 17 year olds are almost as equally likely to be victims of forced marriages as 18 to 21 year olds – which rather suggests that raising the visa age is not really a very good way of dealing with the problem.

      There probably will be a challenge to the immigration rule itself, which will slowly wend its way up to the higher courts, but in the meantime individual challenges based on human rights will have to suffice.

  4. Presumably the clearance posts are instructed to accept the application and fee still then.Even if it’s to be refused automatically like the 320 7b rule.What if they just declined to accept the applications full stop? Would that be unlawful? As well as a revenue loser obviously!!

  5. Hello guys. I am a married 18 year old girl but its not a forced marriage. We can prove that. We got married before 27th of November so will this law affect me? If someone knows pls add on this site. Thanks.

    1. It does affect you: it affects any visa applications made after 27 November, irrespective of when the applicant got married. You need a good immigration lawyer. See the ‘finding a lawyer’ page. To a significant extent, you get what you pay for, and it is worth paying for something as important as your future married life together.

  6. So, still there is a way out of this..18-21 years old issue. I mean to say if a couple can proove that they are not married forcefully but are under 21 years.

    Can they still make an for settlement applications before they turn 21 years old.

    1. No, there is not necessarily a way out. There is a legal argument available, but that is very far from saying that a given immigration judge will accept it. The argument has not yet been tried and certainly isn’t some sort of loophole.

  7. Hi,

    I applied on the 25th of November and my application still got rejected. Thats because the rule states that all applications that are processed after the 27th will follow the new rule. Its kinda wierd but then thats what it states. I am planning to appeal under Human Rights. Not sure what kinda chance I stand. Wish me luck!!

  8. Hi all,
    this is unacceptable. Me and my girlfriend will be married next year(real marriage). we’ve been together for over 3 years. If i knew this new rule a year ago, I would found other girl and paid her to do paper for me . hehe.
    anyway, we think we will have to appeal to High Court.

  9. Hi very interested in the comments and articles. Does anyone have any news or information about the rules that a UK citizen or someone with indefinate leave can not marry a non-EU citizen without the permission of the home office? I know that certain churches will marry people without the home office permission but when i looked into this for a friend a spouse visa can not be applied for from within the uk, or if it is it will be refused. This is a ridiculous rule and whilst i understand the reasons preventing sham marriages etc it seems ridiculous to ask someone who may not have a passport (like a number of asylum seekers who are stuck in the legacy casework system) to leave the country and return to a place of danger to obtain the required visa. It is also ridiculous considering that a number of asylum seekers have been here for some 5 years (long enough to meet people and start a family) and yet can not move forwards with their lives?

    1. There’s two slightly different issues there, and your friend ought to seek legal advice. The first is getting permission to marry at all (called a Certificate of Approval, some info on this blog if you look at the advice pages) and the second is then getting immigration status on the basis of that marriage. It used to be the case that it was hard to get status without having to home to apply from abroad, but a case called Chikwamba from the House of Lords has rather changed things.

  10. hi
    my wife is 20 year old and 6 month we have been knowing each other for over 2 years and i can prove that on phone calls i made and in our internet contact we had, as well as the photos we have together.
    i got all the papers we need so i send to her and she went to british embassy in skopje ,the checked all the papers for about 1hour then she paid the fees of 580 euros then they asked her to wait fpr 20 minutes to se if she needs to attend for interviw or not after 2o minutes they told her,we dont need to interview you,but we will call you.
    same day in afternoon they phone her and asked her if she could go to embassy after 2 days at 2pm.
    she did then they told her that she has been refused because she is not yet 21 year old.
    what do i need to do now?
    can i appeal?
    many thanks

    1. Hi sadik ,
      So your girlfriend will be 21 in 6 months.
      I think you should wait untill she is 21 rather than appealing( If you can ).

      the paper work can take you months.
      and the cost of appealing will be very expensive ( over 3k Pounds I think ).

      I will apply for COA with my gf in May, then we will try to apply for the marriage visa.( she is 18)
      I think I will create a website and do a campaign, ask friends, relative sign up to against this ridiculous law.

  11. I am a British citizen and my wife is a Pakistani citizen, we have been married since Feb 09 and moved to Dublin as she can not apply for UK spouse visa cuz she is 19years old. I think this law is stupid and just forcing people to stay away from their home. I hope they change it back to 18 soon.

  12. I’m about to marry my 19 year old girlfriend, I’ll bring her to the uk on her tourist visa and she will just stay here after the visa expires.. so who is that stupid new law helping??
    well not me, not her and not the government.

    1. That sounds like an astonishingly bad idea as she would be committing a criminal offence and you would be screwing over her chances of remaining in the UK long term.

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