17 October 2011
Supreme Court rules UK ban on foreign marriage visa under 21 is unlawful
Last week, the highest court in the land ruled the law on banning non-EU spouses under the age of 21 to enter the UK unlawful. Enforced in 2008 by the Labour government, the immigration rule meant that a foreigner from outside the EU who was married to a British citizen could not enter the UK if under 21 years old. Amber, a Briton, and her husband Diego from Chile got married at the age of 18 and 19 respectively and fell victim to the rule. The couple campaigned strenuously against this law and finally claimed victory after 3 years of not being allowed to live together. The second victorious couple were Suhyal Mohammed, a British man who was banned from bringing his young Pakistani wife Shakira Bibi to live with him in the UK because of the immigration rule. Both of the couples’ triumph was based on the reasoning that the law is unjustified as it interferes with their human right of private and family life, which ultimately denies them the right to live together as man and wife. The decision has declared the law ‘incompatible’ with the Human Rights Act 1998 , which means the immigration rule must either be scrapped or re-written so that it is consistent with rights.This has come as a bitter blow to the government as it claimed that the immigration rule was aimed at preventing forced marriages in the UK which have been on the rise. However, the judges said that as it stands, it is clear that the law ‘interferes with many more entirely voluntary marriages than it will prevent, deter or delay forced marriages….’ Neither case of the couples above hinted towards a forced marriage. In other European countries, the lawful minimum age for a marriage visa is 21 in Germany and Netherlands, but 24 in Denmark.
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