Spouse visa law condemned

22 Dec 2010 | Posted by Carl Thomas

A section of the UK immigration laws governing spouse visas has been condemned by the Court of Appeal as "arbitrary and disruptive".

Under-21s from overseas have been banned from living in the UK with their British partners under a spouse visa for around two years. The home secretary originally introduced the ban in a bid to deal with the issue of forced marriages.

However, in an appeal bought by the Joint Council of the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), Lord Justice Sedley remarked that the law is "impossible to justify".

JCWI bought the case for spouse visas for young people before the courts on behalf of two couples: Diego and Amber Aguilar and Shakira Bibi and Suhyal Mohammed.

Diego met Amber at school in the UK and the pair married abroad in November 2008, when she was 17 and he was 18.

However, Diego was refused leave to remain in the UK as Amber's spouse when his UK visa ran out. The couple left the country to live in Diego's country of origin, Chile, since he is unable to acquire a new UK visa until they are both 21.

Following the appeal, the judges recognised Amber's right to be joined by her husband in the UK, a decision welcomed by the JCWI.

A spokesman for the group 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."

Meanwhile, immigration minister Damian Green stated the government intends to appeal to the Supreme Court in light of the ruling, claiming that the law is in place to prevent the "intolerable act" of forcing somebody into marriage.