14 October 2011

Supreme Court overturns UK visa ban for young foreign spouses

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A UK Government ban on non-EU foreign spouses under the age of 21 from obtaining a UK visa has been ruled unlawful by the Supreme Court.

UK visa

A UK ban on granting spouse visas to foreigners under 21 has been overturned in the Supreme Court

The UK Supreme Court has overturned the Government's ban on granting a UK visa to young foreign spouses of residents, calling the policy proposal "unlawful" and "unjustified".

The ban - a central plank of the tougher stance on a range of UK immigration issues unveiled this month - aimed to decrease incidents of forced marriage, which Prime Minister David Cameron described as "completely wrong" in a speech in London on October 10.

In assessing the case, the judges acknowledged the motive behind the policy but disputed its legality and practical impact on the problem.

"I would acknowledge that the change in rules is rationally connected to the objective of deterring forced marriages," said Lord Wilson in the Supreme Court judgment.

""But the number of forced marriages which it deters is highly debatable.

"What seems clear is that the number of unforced marriages which it obstructs from their intended development for up to three years vastly exceeds the number of forced marriages which it deters".

UK Immigration Minister Damian Green expressed frustration with the court's decision.

""This is another very disappointing judgement, which overturns a policy that exists and is judged to be consistent with the ECHR in other European countries," he said. 

"The judges themselves agreed increasing the marriage visa age had a legitimate aim.

"We believe this decision will put vulnerable people at risk of being forced into marriage. We will come forward with our response in due course."


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


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