UK immigration: Change in Marriage Visa Rules
Marriages might be made in heaven but for sure marriage immigration law are not.
Long distance relationships have their share of hazards. More cumbersome can be long distance marriages. The spouse being from one country and the groom from the other is a common phenomenon in today’s time. This means that there is increased need for understanding how application and granting of visas work.
Marriage immigration laws are different in different countries. Recently the British government has made changes in the marriage visa rule. It has decided the age limit for granting marriage visa as 21 years. Fiancé/e, spouse/groom, unmarried partner or partner of the same sex all fall under the marriage visa laws.
The age limit was earlier increased from 18 years to 21 years in 2008. This change has been noted in paragraph 277 of the British Immigration Laws. The case of Quila and Bibi vs Secretary of State for Home Department ( 2011) had challenged the change in the age of marriage. However, the ruling was in favor of the Secretary of State for Home Department. This means that a spouse or groom below 21 years cannot apply for marriage visa under the British immigration laws.
Let us make it clearer. Both the sponsor or British resident and the foreign spouse or groom should reach the age of 21. Only then, will a marriage visa be issued to the foreign groom or spouse. If the age of the groom is less than 21, the foreign spouse or groom will not be issued a marriage visa.
This change in the immigration law was made to cut down on the cases of forced marriage. It ensures in a way that the foreign spouse or groom is old enough to not be forced into marriage. Also, misguided and taken advantage off by the resident. Though well intentioned, the Supreme Court has commented, that this policy jeopardizes those marriages, which are genuine. Therefore, a genuine couple may have to stall their marriage plans until they both are 21 years of age. Once the desired age is met, the marriage visa is eligible for application and review.
This change in the law has left quite a few with rejected visa applications. Due to this, the United Kingdom Border Agency has issued a policy guidance to explain the immigration rules on marriage. It also illustrates on how to reapply for review, if the marriage visa has been rejected because of age. However, the reapplication should be done before 31 May 2012.