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Supreme Court overturns non-EU young spouses ban

LONDON: Banning foreign spouses aged between 18 and 21 from entering the UK is not a lawful way of dealing with the problem of forced marriages, the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday 12th October 2011
Today four Supreme Court justices – Lord Phillips, Lady Hale, Lord Clarke and Lord Wilson – agreed the ban could not stand as it infringed the right of the couples to family and private life, as protected by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights

By a 4-1 majority, the highest court in the land rejected an appeal by Home Secretary Theresa May against a Court of Appeal decision, which outlawed the ban as “arbitrary and disruptive”. The ruling is a victory for two couples that had fallen victim to changes to the immigration rules that prevented non-European under 21s from obtaining visas to join their British partners in the UK.

The Home Secretary had failed to establish that the rule struck a fair balance between the rights of couples in unforced marriages and the interests of the community in deterring forced marriages.

The ruling by the Supreme Court is a major blow to an immigration policy designed to stop forced marriages.
The High Court had initially backed the home secretary’s power to deny entry or settlement visas to spouses under the age of 21.

But declaring the rule incompatible with the couples’ rights, Lord Wilson said in the Supreme Court’s judgement the government had not shown a good case for interfering with the right to private and family life.

The implication of this is that you can now act as sponsor to your foreign spouse even where you are both 18 years old as long as you are both in a genuine relationship whether married or unmarried.

Westkin Associates

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