Judges rule UK spouse visa age limit unlawful

12 Oct 2011 | Posted by Carl Thomas

The Supreme Court has ruled that the a government ban on the issuing of UK spouse visas for people under the age of 21 coming from outwith the European Union is unlawful.

Two couples have been contesting the law, which was introduced by Labour in 2008, for some time now. One of these couples is Briton Amber Aguilar and her husband Diego, from Chile, who were both under the age of 21 when the ruling was introduced.

The law meant that he was unable to stay with his wife in this country following the expiration of his UK student visa. The pair claimed that the UK immigration rule had unlawfully interfered with their right to a private and family life as guaranteed in Article 8 of he European Convention on Human Rights.

Now, however, the court has deemed the initial rule unjustified for the very reason that it interfered with the human rights of couples. The ruling follows a previous High Court decision to back the home secretary's power to deny UK spouse visas and settlement to spouses below the age of 21.

Lord Wildon summed up the Supreme Court's judgement: “I would acknowledge that the [change in rules] is rationally connected to the objective of deterring forced marriages. 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.”