Raising the marriage visa age


by Sunny
25th July, 2008 at 3:53 pm    

Rahila Gupta isn’t convinced that the government’s latest proposals to combat forced marriages are that good. For example, she says, the plan to raise the age of spouses allowed in on a marriage visa – from 18 to 21 is a bad idea. She cites Denmark as an example. But as this paper shows, when Denmark raised the age from 18 to 24 for allowing in spouses on a marriage visa, there was a positive impact.

The problem of course is that evidence can be presented both ways. But I’d be willing to bet that for every Asian family who is willing to let the young Pakistani girl who their son has married stay there until she reaches the required age – there are more who find the whole process too much of a hassle. Maybe what the govt should have done is raised the limit to 24, and then seen what the impact would have been (like Denmark). Its not terribly liberal, I know. But then neither is forcing your kids into an early marriage.


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  1. Muhamad {peace be upon me} — on 25th July, 2008 at 4:27 pm  

    Why is it that Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, etc, preponderate in this respect?

  2. Benelux — on 25th July, 2008 at 4:42 pm  

    Asian family who is willing to let the young Pakistani girl

    Please clarify the above statement.

    You appear confused.

  3. Avi Cohen — on 25th July, 2008 at 5:03 pm  

    It is a good proposal. Though to imply it is a Pakistani problem is unfair as many Indian families follow the same trend and Newsnight highlighted this.

    I think it allows time and also takes pressure of the families during which time they can determine a better decision.

  4. Sunny — on 25th July, 2008 at 5:11 pm  

    The ‘Pakistani’ was an example – yes of course its also common among India, Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan families.

  5. Rumbold — on 25th July, 2008 at 5:20 pm  

    Didn’t SBS also oppose the criminalisation of forced marriages?

  6. MaidMarian — on 25th July, 2008 at 5:46 pm  

    With respect, this is rather dancing around the point.

    I see the point in raising the age to 24 (though I’d be interested to know where that number comes from) but that’s not really what we are talking about here is it?

    The real issue is people from certain communities are at least perceived to be using marriage as a route to bring others to the UK with no regard of any sort for whether the person coming over is a good ‘candidate’ or not. Whether that person is 21 or 24 when they get the right to come seems rather moot. I do take the point in the article that many will find the process a hassle, but many wont.

    This is a problem that no amount of legislation can resolve because it is essentially attempting to legislate for motivation – a recipe for failure.

    The message that needs to ring forth from this time and this place is that simply because someone can bring a family member over does not mean it is a good idea.

    It has often struck me that East Europeans have no problem whatsoever telling other Eastern Europeans who have ‘failed’ to make immigration work that they have no one to blame but themself. I think that there is a lesson there and one that could be applied widely.

    On a slightle separate point, I will leave those who run PP to dwell on whether the adverts for The International Muslim Matrimonial Site are the most appropriate thing ever to appear on here.

  7. Galloise Blonde — on 25th July, 2008 at 6:47 pm  

    Rumbold: Yes they did criticise the proposal to criminalise FM, and I think a lot of other groups followed their lead as they were more well-known (at least at the time) than those people arguing in favour, such as Jasvinder Sanghera.

    It’s not just the hassle involved that will reduce the incidence, I hope, but that a person at 21 years of age will have greater self-confidence and social resources to resist parental will than a person at 18.

  8. Rumbold — on 25th July, 2008 at 7:15 pm  

    Galloise Blonde:

    Thanks for that. I remember hearing Jasvinder Sanghera argue for criminalisation. When it was put to her that this might drive the practice underground, she said “it’s already underground,” or words to that effect.

  9. Avi Cohen — on 25th July, 2008 at 7:44 pm  

    There are two issues here:

    1. People using marriage to bring people here.

    2. People being forced to marry against their will.

    The raising of the age limit will help in both situations in my opinion.

    I’d like to see an additional proposal namely that if a male spouse is convicted of wife beating and then the couple seperate or divorce then the spouse loses righst to stay here. The point is that it then also helps to allieviate the situation of people marrying British Girls and then being abusive and leaving them. Thsu remove their right to stay here if they mistreat their spouse.

    But it isn’t a bad move by the Home Office to address a situation by allowing youngsters a fully opportunity to get an education and grow up before marriage thereby reducing pressure on families to get children married off.

  10. MaidMarian — on 25th July, 2008 at 10:25 pm  

    Avi Cohen (9) – ‘I’d like to see an additional proposal namely that if a male spouse is convicted of wife beating and then the couple seperate or divorce then the spouse loses righst to stay here.’

    I assume you mean in cases where the spouse is an immigrant?

    You won’t hear any objection from me, but that idea is rather more theoretical than practical given the vagaries of immigration and rights law. Indeed, I would imagine that most of the people in that category would be UK citizens by one route or another.

    The unspoken truth is that any action on this is going to really mean taking the bull by the horns and stepping on sensitive toes, very probably racial. Not a palatable thought for anyone.

    I have no particular feelings on raising the age to 24 – it is a red-herring because it is fanciful to assume that the issues are different simply because the people involved are older.

  11. MixTogether — on 25th July, 2008 at 11:25 pm  

    Its not terribly liberal, I know. But then neither is forcing your kids into an early marriage.

    Amen.

  12. Bert Rustle — on 26th July, 2008 at 9:16 am  

    Is the practice of bringing foreign spouses into the UK related to dowries?

    Reportedly, in the USA, the granting of a H-1b visa can be worth $100,000. See Citizenship (the linked article has links to references)

    …an Indian engineer who obtained an H-1b visa, which confers a 50-50 chance of obtaining permanent residency, could expect about $50,000 in additional dowry revenue–which suggested a value of about $100,000. A National Academy of Sciences report put the cost of each immigrant to the US economy at a similar value of $100,000—using a fundamentally different methodology. …

  13. persephone — on 26th July, 2008 at 11:42 am  

    Bert Rustle

    Imagine there is a % who do so. But a large proportion wish to gain a ‘traditional’ spouse who will be more ‘cultural’ than a british asian. The aspect of resident british asians wanting to go abroad for an asian spouse is another blog in itself …

  14. sarah — on 26th July, 2008 at 8:48 pm  

    Thanks for the link to Rahila’s article, Sunny.

  15. Niels C — on 27th July, 2008 at 5:32 pm  

    The danish rule ( 24 years + some other obstacles) has this summer run into troubles.
    It looks like the EU rules to support the workers free movement inside the EU overrules the danish law.
    So if a EU citizen moves to another EU country for work ( or looking for work) and then marry, he/she is free to bring the spouse to the home country.
    The numbers of family reunions has also been growing last year, so it looks like the mariage age has been adjusted.
    It’s really difficult to change peoples habits, as long as it’s so much better being poor in Denmark or Britain than in the lands of origins.
    And if you make the economic conditions harder for family reunions – it’s a possibility – the resuly will only be a pauperised lumpenproletariat.

  16. Bert Rustle — on 27th July, 2008 at 6:06 pm  

    Niels C 15 wrote …The danish rule ( 24 years + some other obstacles) has this summer run into troubles.
    It looks like the EU rules to support the workers free movement inside the EU overrules the danish law. …

    See Taking us for mugs, which is a referenced article regarding recent cases in Ireland which have ramifications for the UK. In part … So, what we have is the ECJ confirming, through a series of incremental judgements, that there is an open door for illegal immigrants, over which member states have no control. As long as third country nationals can get here or to any other member state by any means (whether illegal entry or by falsely claiming asylum) and evade the authorities long enough to marry EU citizens (who themselves may have been recent immigrants, as was Metock’s spouse), EU law gives them an absolute right permanently to stay here or anywhere else in the EU. …

    It is a rather lengthy article, however it apparently demonstrates how the European Court of Justice and various EU Directives interact to override decisions made at a national level.

  17. Avi Cohen — on 27th July, 2008 at 10:23 pm  

    “I assume you mean in cases where the spouse is an immigrant?”

    Yes I do as it would lead to more protection for women and children.

    I’d also like to see stiffer sentences for males who continually batter their wives. If the law can’t deal with it – as it can’t at present – then the law is insufficient and an arse.

  18. MaidMarian — on 28th July, 2008 at 10:36 am  

    Niels C – ‘It’s really difficult to change peoples habits, as long as it’s so much better being poor in Denmark or Britain than in the lands of origins.’

    In my (rather limited) experience, you are making a pretty big assumption there. The people in question here are not always living in poverty in their place of origin, far from it. I think you are trying to inject a level of rationality that does not always exist here. It all goes back to the idea of people needing to be good ‘candidates’ for immigration. Coming from a ‘not poor’ background does not per se make one a stronger candidate for a sucessful immigration.

    I also think that you and Bert Rustle may need to be a bit more specific as you are giving the wrong impression here. Try this article. I know it is a bit politicised but the points about immigration processes are correct.

    http://www.ncadc.org.uk/archives/filed%20newszines/oldnewszines/news17/don.html

    My wife is from outside the EU and is now a UK citizen. That she is a UK citizen does not allow her to bring her parent here even for a visit. I am currently in a fight to the death with the visa people.

    I understand that most but not all EU countries interpret the legislation in this way so yes, non-UK nationals have more rights than my UK-national wife! It is a common myth that being a European citizen immedately confers extensive family reunion rights and there needs to be some precision on this point.

  19. Bert Rustle — on 28th July, 2008 at 10:47 am  

    MaidMarian 18 wrote … Bert Rustle … you are giving the wrong impression here. …

    What is the impression I am giving? In which way(s) is it wrong? What is the right impression? How have you determined right from wrong in this instance?

  20. MaidMarian — on 28th July, 2008 at 11:48 am  

    Bert Rustle (19) – Ok, ok, ok – untwist your underwear!

    In turn:

    You give the impression that marriage is a ‘soft option.’ Whether you do this knowingly or otherwise I will leave to you. The way in particular that you juxtapose the words, ‘open door for illegal immigrants,’ rather reinforces (very effectively) that impression.

    It is wrong because marriage is not a ‘soft option.’ Or at least it did not feel soft when my wife and I were sat having our lives pored over, passports lost resulting in six-eight months unemployment or when my wife’s parents were told they could not come to visit.

    The right impression is that in the article I linked, though I don’t agree with its politics (far from it in fact), it captures well the eccentric nature of the process and the many frustrations.

    I determined right from wrong through personal experience.

  21. Bert Rustle — on 28th July, 2008 at 9:17 pm  

    MaidMarian 20 wrote … Ok … underwear! … I am suitably chastised and will endeavour to formulate my questions in a more nuanced form in future.

    MaidMarian 20 wrote … You give the impression that marriage is a ’soft option.’ Whether you do this knowingly or otherwise I will leave to you. … Not only do I do this unknowingly, I also do not know how you receive this impression.

    MaidMarian 20 wrote … The way in particular that you juxtapose the words, ‘open door for illegal immigrants,’ … This phrase is from a linked article, not me. Though the phrase is intemperate, to omit it may have misrepresented the linked article to some extent.

    MaidMarian 20 wrote … It is wrong because marriage is not a ’soft option.’ … From the original post, the articles I have linked to and indeed Disabled married off for entry into the UK, the marriage appears to have some characteristics of a commercial transaction.

    MaidMarian 20 wrote … my wife and I were sat having our lives pored over, passports lost resulting in six-eight months unemployment or when my wife’s parents were told they could not come to visit. … I would hazard a guess that your experience has a somewhat similar cause and cure as described in A Survival Guide For Decent Folk, if you can find such a guide from an immigration official.

  22. MS — on 1st August, 2008 at 6:19 pm  

    The reason sbs oppose this is because they oppose the control and criminalization of black communities through immigration controls and restrictions. They opposed a forced marriage law because of it’s ghettoizing effect, it would be similar to the law against fgm, existing on the books, appearing as if the government had done it’s job, while failing to have any impact (no convictions, and research shows it’s not having a deterrence effect). FM includes kidnap, sexual assault, and other criminal acts and if the authorities (housing, social services, police, etc) knew there ass from the mouth when it comes to this, then many many young women would be helped before being forced into a marriage. As for sbs, I spend several years working there and while I don’t support Refuge or Ealing in this at all, I don’t belive this “sisters” have provided a safe, consistent, accessible services in the past five years. Way too may issues there that should have been dealt with long ago. In this case, however, I do agree with Rahila.

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