November 2008 has seen announcements from the British Government that represent some of the biggest changes in the immigration and border security department for over 45 years.
In response to greater awareness of people who abuse the marriage visa process through enforced marriages, the changes will mark a shake up of the marriage visa application process. The key change is that the lowest age of a marriage visa applicant will rise from 18 to 21. As of 27th November 2008, both parties applying for a marriage visa will need to be, and have proof as such, over 21 years of age, a rise of three years.
Government officials believe that this fundamental change will reduce the number of sham marriages for people that abuse the marriage visa route. Border and Immigration Minister Phil Woolas explained, “It is important that we protect vulnerable young people and this measure will help avoid exploitation.”
Mr Woolas echoes the words of the head of Border and Immigration control, Dr Liam Byrne MP, who wrote the forward for the ‘Marriage Visas: The Way Forward’ document. This document clearly points out how focused the department is, and the Government as a whole, towards reducing the painful issue of enforced marriage, with both practical legislative and supportive measures.
The document goes some way to illustrating the range of changes that are being brought in to tighten the marriage visa application process, a package of which is due to be announced shortly. What is already certain is that the Government takes this issue very seriously.