10 November 2011

UK returns spouse visa age requirement to 18

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The UK Border Agency (UKBA) has issued new policy guidance indicating that the minimum age for a UK spouse visa is now 18 following a landmark case in the Supreme Court.

UK visa

The Supreme Court has overturned the UK Government's 2008 raising of the age limit for spouse visas from 18 to 21.

The UKBA has issued a statement explaining that married and equivalent couples between the ages of 18 and 21 have been re-allocated to right to be eligible for a spouse UK visa.

"Changes to the Immigration Rules have been laid in Parliament today to reinstate a minimum age of 18 for a spouse, civil partner, fiancé(e), proposed civil partner, unmarried partner or same-sex partner and for their sponsor in order to qualify for entry clearance, leave to enter, leave to remain or a variation of leave on that basis," the statement said.

The change in eligibility criteria follows a ruling by he Supreme Court in the case of Quila and Bibi v Secretary of State for the Home Department, which sought to overturn an arguably discriminatory stance - raising the eligibility age to 21 - introduced by the UK Government in 2008 in an effort to crack down on forced marriages and immigration fraud.

The court ruled that despite its underlying purpose to eradicate crime, the exclusion of genuine couples between 18 and 21 signified a breach of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

According to the UK Visa Bureau, the ruling is likely to have an impact on UK spouse and marriage visa applications.

"I would anticipate quite a notable increase in the number of settlement applications being lodged both in-country and abroad once this ruling comes in," said UK Visa Bureau spokesperson Marissa Murdock.

Ms Murdock said the reversion to an age limit of 18 would be warmly embraced by applicant couples of this demographic.

"The intention to now drop the age back down to its original 18 years is one that will be met with a lot of anticipation and relief," she said.

"A great many couples abroad, or where one partner is in the UK and the other waiting abroad until both parties are 21, can now apply to be together.

"This would mean reuniting families that may have been separated for some time, and allows young couples wanting to start their lives together to now do so."

Applicants for a spouse visa that were previously rejected under the age criteria but are likely to be accepted under the new criteria, are now able to have their case reviewed.

The changes will come into effect on November 28 2011.


UK Visa Bureau is an independent immigration consultancy specialising in helping people prepare for their Life in the UK test.


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