UKBA have announced a limited concession to the rise in the visa age to 21 for spouses and partners. The concession is simply that the rule will not be applied to spouses and partners seeking entry to accompany or join immigrants in the temporary visa categories, such as students or Points Based Scheme migrants. The rise will continue apply to spouses and partners accompanying or joining persons present and settled in the UK.
This is rather odd, to put it mildly. It looks a lot like the reverse discrimination commenters on this blog have legitimately raised with regards to Metock and EEA citizens, where British citizens have far less extensive rights to be joined or accompanied by family members. Temporary migrants can be joined by spouses and partners under 21; British citizens and those with ILR cannot.
And how does this concession fit with the stated aim of reducing forced marriages? No explanation is given as to how this is consistent with the supposed aim, nor can I imagine reasons justifying how it fits with it at all. In my opinion, the concession further highlights the real aim of this discriminatory measure: preventing British Asians and minorities from marrying abroad.
The concession will be more grist for the legal mill when challenges against refusals start to come through. I reiterate my earlier opinion: anyone refused on the basis of being between the ages of 18 and 21 who can show they are not party to a forced marriage (which is pretty easy to do!) has a very strong case based on human rights and discrimination law.
Forced marriages are appalling and a very serious issue, but this is not the way to deal with the problem. It is disproportionate and disingenuous.