UK minimum marriage visa age changed back to 21

Published: 01/12/2011

The official amendment of the UK marriage visa age on 28th November 2011 marks an important change in the UK settlement visa application process.
Following the release of new policy guidance from the UK Border Agency (UKBA), the minimum age for both foreign spouses, fiancees, unmarried partners and their sponsors will return to 18, rather than the increased age of 21 which has been in force since 2008.
The increase in the minimum age has caused numerous issues for young married couples where one partner is entitled to live and work in the UK and wanted to bring their spouse to join them. This new ruling is likely to overturn these cases and reunite young married couples who are now entitled to settle in the UK.
The change has come about following one such court case, Quila and Bibi v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2011] UKSC45, with the case challenging the requirement in relation to paragraph 277 of the UK Immigration Rules. The Supreme Court rules that a change to the minimum age of 21 rule disproportionately interfered with the Article 8 rights of genuine young married couples, even though it acknowledged that the requirement was initially established to protect vulnerable young people from bogus or forced marriages.
With the change to the UK Immigration Rules taking the minimum age of 18 for a spouse, civil partner, fiancee, proposed civil partner, same-sex partner or unmarried partner instead of the previous 21 now in effect since 28th November 2011, sponsors are now able to qualify for entry clearance, leave to enter, leave to remain or other types of leave on this age basis. Other requirements remain in place.
This change also means that UK marriage visa applications that have previously been rejected on ages grounds alone may now be reconsidered, if their initial application was made between 27th November 2008 and 28th November 2011, for applications made both from within or outside the UK. This refers to applications rejected under paragraphs 277, 289AA or 295AA.
Marriage Visa Help can advise and support you through your application process, and will always endeavour to deliver the most up-to-date and informed information regarding this and any other issues that may impact on a UK marriage visa application.

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