UK marriage visa rules 'need strengthening'

07 Jun 2011 | Posted by Carl Thomas

A recent report has warned that the rules governing UK marriage visas need to be tightened.

Compiled by Migration Watch UK, the paper emphasised the fact that British citizens should be able to marry "who ever they choose".

Sir Andrew Green, chairman of the group, remarked that it is important that young people are able to make "a free choice without pressure being placed on them".

He added: "It is now time to move on from marriages arranged purely for immigration purposes, often under a degree of family or social pressure that falls short of being actually forced.

"Such marriages cause a lot of misery to those directly involved and are harmful, to the cohesion of our society, as many in the Asian community would privately agree."

To tackle this, Migration Watch called for stricter UK marriage visa laws to be imposed.

Reinstating full interviews, especially in relation to countries of concern, would be one way of doing this. But the think tank added that other conditions also need to be implemented.

The English language level should be revised to A2, all spouses should have to wait five years before being granted a UK marriage visa with Indefinite Leave to Remain and a sponsor who divorces should not be allowed to sponsor a further overseas spouse for a period of five years, according to Migration Watch's suggestions.

Sir Andrew added that the most important condition is the reinstatement of interviews for UK marriage visa applicants, with a particular focus for people coming from countries with a low average age of applicants.

He remarked: "It is clear that there is a huge task to be done in tackling the chaos in the immigration system left by the last government. Our proposals are just one step in that process.

"They are intended to be fair to those who seek to marry a foreign partner while also commanding the confidence of the majority of the population - something which at present is sadly lacking."