Age ruling separates young married couple

Published: 15/01/2011

A young American bride has been told that she cannot live in the UK with her British husband because of an immigration rule.
Katie Swift, 20, met her husband Grant, 19, over two years ago when he was on holiday in Florida. The couple fell in love and enjoyed a long distance relationship, then spent six months living together in the UK. They then got married in the UK and planned to settle in IT worker Grant’s home county of Yorkshire, with Katie hoping to find work as soon as possible.
The problem for the love-stuck young couple started when they applied for a UK spouse visa. Katie has been informed that due to the changes in the UK marriage visa immigration requirements made in November 2008, both parties must be over 21 years of age to qualify, unless one or both are in HM Forces, when it is acceptable to be aged 18. The change was brought in to deter bogus or enforced marriages, but it has been criticised for impacting too heavily on the genuine marriages of young couples.
This issue confused the couple as they had clearly stated on their UK Border Agency application for permission to get married (certificate of approval or COA) that they intended to live in the UK after they get married, and this application was granted by the Home Secretary. Katie has now been told that she must return to the US as she is unable to gain a UK spouse visa because she and Grant are both aged under 21 and so they do not meet the current UK marriage visa requirements.
Grant said, “Katie is so important to me and I couldn’t imagine things any other way now. We were allowed to get married but we’re not allowed to start married life together, it seems crazy and completely unfair.”
He continued, “We’ve never been in any trouble and we’re not after any financial support – we just want the right to live in the same country.”
Katie and Grant have gained considerable publicity about their situation, with their local Yorkshire newspaper covering the story and a petition and Facebook group set up to help their campaign.

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