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Spouse visa age lowered


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Pun intended

UPDATE: see later post for information on applying for a review if your case has already been refused.

The Government has announced today that the spouse visa age will be lowered again from 21 to 18. The change will take effect as of 28 November 2011.

The Minister for Immigration, Damian Green, says as follows in his ministerial announcement:

The changes in the Immigration Rules being laid before the House today are as a result of the Supreme Court judgement in R (on the application of Quila and another) (FC) v Secretary of State for the Home Department and R (on the application of Bibi and another) (FC) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2011] UKSC 45.

On 12 October 2011, the Supreme Court found that whilst they recognised that the Secretary of State was pursuing a legitimate and rational aim of seeking to address forced marriage, a rule (increasing the minimum marriage visa age from 18 to 21) disproportionately interfered with the Article 8 rights of those who were in genuine marriages. Accordingly, the Secretary of State has decided to revert to a minimum age of 18.

The changes will take effect on 28 November and will reduce the minimum age at which a person may be granted entry clearance or leave as the spouse, civil partner, fiancé(e), proposed civil partner, unmarried or same-sex partner of a sponsor, and the minimum age at which a person may sponsor such an application, from 21 to 18 years. It will also delete references to a minimum age of 18 for entry clearance or leave as the spouse, civil partner, fiancé(e), proposed civil partner, unmarried or same-sex partner of a HM Forces sponsor, and the minimum age at which a member of HM Forces may sponsor such an application. Guidance for those affected by the judgment will be published on the UK Border Agency website.

There is no place in British society for the practice of forced marriage. It is a breach of human rights and a form of violence against the victims. That is why the Prime Minister has announced that the Government will criminalise the breach of Forced Marriage Civil Protection Orders and that there will be a consultation on making forcing someone to marry an offence in its own right.

We are also investigating what more we can do to identify and protect those young people who have been placed at additional risk.

You can read the full ministerial statement here for yourself.

This blog has long campaigned for this change since it was first announced. See here for the full list of posts on the subject. The change to the rules will come as welcome relief to the many young couples who have left comments here on the blog.

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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.


19 Responses

  1. Welcome news, indeed.

    I wonder if they’ll also address the contradiction in the visitor rules that prevents a foreign national under the age of 18 from qualifying for leave as a ‘marriage visitor’ even though one may marry (albeit with parental consent) at 16.

  2. I hope all those that campaigned to reverse this decision from the Government will campaign just as hard to support those that are victims of forced marriages- invariably young, vulnerable women.

    Anyone who is willing to help those that will be disadvantaged by this decision can look to the Karma Nirvana organisation which does its best to support such women.

    1. This measure was never about preventing forced marriages. It was about reducing immigration from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. If ministers had been more honest and admitted that it was about reducing immigration, they might have won the court case. I always prefer cock up to conspiracy as an explanation but in this case the measure was so disconnected from the supposed object it really did look like conspiracy.

      I for one have worked with victims of forced marriage and have done pro bono work. I’ve seen some excellent work by the FCO Forced Marriage Unit. I’ve never seen any genuine effort by the UK Border Agency. In contrast, the cases dealing with victims of domestic violence have been disgracefully, abominably handled. This is no time for you to start coming all holier than thou.

    2. OnlyMe – If you thought that the blanket rule was really to prevent forced marriages then you are very naive indeed!

    3. Rajesh, where in my post do I say what the blanket rule was for?

      FM- I know you have worked with victims of forced marriages, so too have I. Indeed, I am related to two such past victims (albeit distant relatives) as so many in the asian community are. I wasn’t trying to come across as holy/ righteous. I simply want more people to support organisations like Karma Nirvana.

      However- and I again speak from experience- in the field of immigration (and yes, those in my community are guilty of it too) people often have a me, me, me mentality and the sad thing is those that take advantage of the ruling will now shut up shop and think nothing of those that will no doubt suffer- regardless of what reason the Government might give for having changed the legislation.

    4. It’s worth going back to the ruling itself onlyme. It’s one thing to be rightly against forced marriage, it’s another to be willing to let its elimination trump all else (although as fm says, this was never about forced marriage).

  3. My wife was refused marriage visa because she was under 21 in March 2010, however she was granted 3 years of Discretionary Leave instead.
    Now I’ve just read the policy guidance for applicants affected by the par 277 of rule, UKBA are prepared to review decison of refusals as LONG AS SUCCESSFULL APPLICATION HAS NOT BEEN MADE BY THE APPLICANT.

    My wife was refused solely on age grounds however UKBA granted her Discretionary Leave.We didn’t apply for Discretionary Leave.Can we still apply for to seek a review of that decision or the fact that she was granted DL, It is considered as a succesfull application.

    Looking forward to hearing fro you.

  4. Well to be honest ive been waiting to apply for my hubbys visa for 3 years and had another year and half left to wait. Not any more thank UKBA :D

    1. Freemovement, do u think the review applies to cases where they have been soley refused on the basis on age,however granted discretionary leave instead??

  5. Do you think there will be a new form to complete from 28th Nov or can we use the existing form?


  6. I am 20 years old and Have been married since March 27th 2010 to a guy from Pakistan. We now have a 7 month old baby and want to all move to the uk but there seems to be complications.

    Firstly I am on benefits ; income support and housing benefit and secondly I have no qualifications so i cannot get a well paying job which I believe I need in order to apply.

    How can I apply to bring my hubby here under these conditions. M husband has a Bachelor degree and will work on arrival to the uk but it’s the ‘ARRIVAL’ that is hard!! What can we do about these issues?

    Ps were currently together in his country.

  7. Has the law changed? Ukba website still stated min age 21… Can someone informed please update us…

  8. plz tell me what documents do i need exactly to apply for my husband visa i have seen the home office website but i need to know if there is anything else also
    plz tell me if there is

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