22 December 2010

UK immigration marriage rules condemned by Court of Appeal

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The Court of Appeal has condemned the ban on young foreign spouses entering the UK and called it “impossible to justify”.

UK visa

The UK Visa rules for marriages for those under 21 has been called "unlawful".

The home secretary banned non-European under-21s from living with British partners in the UK, as part of a UK immigration clamp down on forced marriages.

Lord Justice Sedley, one of three judges to hear challenges from two young couples, the impact of the law on innocent lives made it "impossible to justify".

The government said it would seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court.

The challenge to the law was made by the Joint Council of the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) on behalf of two couples: Diego and Amber Aguilar, and Shakira Bibi and Suhyal Mohammed.

Lord Justice Sedley said the UK immigration ban could not lawfully be applied to Diego and Amber Aguilar or Shakira Bibi and Suhyal Mohammed, or "others like them".

Diego Aguilar and Amber, a British girl, married in November 2008, when she was 17 and he was 18.

Diego, who was in the UK on a student visa, was refused leave to remain in the UK as Amber's spouse, and so the couple had to relocate to his country of origin Chile.

Under the marriage policy Diego, now 20, cannot have a new UK Visa to live in the UK with his wife until they are both 21.

A JWCI spokesman said: "Like some 5,000 or so others, they were the innocent victims of a blanket policy designed to target a few cases of forced marriage."

Immigration minister Damian Green said: "We are disappointed with the Court of Appeal's decision and will be seeking leave to appeal to the Supreme Court.

"Forcing someone to marry is an intolerable act and for genuine couples, marriage is not something that should be taken lightly, especially when it involves moving to another country. I think it is reasonable to ask both parties to wait until they are 21."  

The UK Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with their  UK Visa applications to the British Embassy.

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