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

Spouse visa age… again


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Back to this old chestnut. I’ve been doing a bit more work on the subject and thought I’d share a minor revelation I had while writing an article for one of the immigration law journals. I’ve also learned that there is a judicial review application on this to be heard on 30 October 2009, although having spoken to the barrister instructed he’s not currently planing to challenge the rule itself, just the treatment of the individual client.

As to the minor revelation, I’m ashamed not to have picked up on this before. It is hardly rocket science. The statistics used by the Home Office in the announcement that the spouse and partner visa age would be increased showed that there were more reported forced marriages at certain ages. UKBA then used this information to argue that because there were more forced marriages at these ages, raising the visa age beyond this age bracket would help prevent forced marriages. Simple.

The problems are really, really fundamental ones. First of all, the sample size is tiny in comparison to the total number of marriages that take place at the ages affected. This is one of the justifications used by UKBA for not publishing the research report on forced marriages they commissioned, incidentally. Secondly, I suspect there are more marriages at these ages in the communities believed to be most affected by forced marriage. One would therefore expect there to be more forced marriages as well. If anyone has any ideas on how to find out how many marriages there are at different ages in, for example, the British Asian community, I’d be very interested to hear. There is therefore nothing at all to show that proportionately there are more forced marriages before the age of 21 (and in the research commissioned by the Home Office almost everyone said age is not a factor in determining risk of forced marriage). Thirdly, there is also nothing at all to show that forced marriages are more likely to be a problem if the marriage is to a foreign national – i.e. changing the visa age does nothing to tackle domestic forced marriages.

So, what UKBA are really trying to achieve is a reduction in the number of marriages to foreign nationals, in the alleged hope that this will reduce the number of forced marriages. Yet there is nothing to suggest that the age bracket affected by the change is particularly at risk of forced marriage and there is nothing to suggest that forced marriages are more of a problem in foreign marriages.

Are ministers and civil servants so daft that they think the statistical ‘evidence’ they relied on is strong? Or is this cynical and discriminatory pandering to the anti-immigration lobby? Take your pick, using my statistically sound sampling technique:[polldaddy poll=2063526]

I’ll be returning to the theme of dodgy ‘science’ in my next post, on the ominously entitled ‘Human Provenance Project’.

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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.


8 Responses

  1. 2 quotes come to mind

    “Lies, Damn lies, and Government/HO statistics”

    “The Governments may change, but the lies stay the same”.

    Does anyone else remember the “Yes Minister” sketch where a junior minister explains to the PM how to produce a survey on “private education” where the desired result was determined by the phrasing of the preceding questions?

  2. Can you please tell me the judicial review application’s decision or when are we likely to see or here the decision.

    1. The hearing was about two weeks ago now but there is no judgment yet that I’m aware of. I’ll post up information as soon as I have it.

  3. I am awaiting a decesion from high court, I would really like to know a bit more for example at what stage is this barrister at: AIT, High Court, European Court , etc . . . . . . .

    As you can understand this situation has been very frustrating for me and my partner since january 2009

  4. i think this law it totaly ridiculous!! I am an american citizen and my husband is british. I am 20 and will have to wait till next year to actually be with my husband. I cant beleive it honestly. How can they grant us to get married then we cant be together? i dont understand. they need to take this law away cause it only cause more heartbreak, pain and debt in many genuine relantionship that want to be together because they love each other..its like we are paying for a crime… ****can u please sign my petition to send to gordon brown*** many thanks!!!