* UKBA allowed to intervene in case of forced marriage
ISLAMABAD: The British government has increased the age of marriage visa seekers from 18 to 21 year as part of a crackdown on forced marriage, the British High Commission (BHC) said in a statement on Thursday.
“On 23 July 2008, the Home Office announced that the age at which someone can apply for a marriage visa would increase from 18 to 21 as part of a crackdown on forced marriage,” BHC statement said.
The five key proposals announced include raising the age of sponsorship for a marriage visa from 18 to 21; asking foreign spouses to enter into an agreement to learn English before they come to the UK; introducing a power to revoke leave to remain where there is evidence that the marriage route has been abused; requiring all sponsors to register their intention to marry overseas before they leave the UK, and ensure through a code of practice that specialist teams can identify people vulnerable to the risks of forced marriage.
UKBA intervention: The statement said that practical guidance was also being introduced so that United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA) staff could spot any risk of abuse and prevent them from being coerced into marriage. The new rules would mean that anyone abusing the marriage visa system would be removed from the UK by the UKBA under a new power to revoke a person’s right to stay in the country.
The BHC said that the government believed that those who stay in the UK must have a good grasp of English to ensure integration into British life and before they come to the UK, spouses would need to sign up to an agreement to learn English.
“Soon after their arrival, the UKBA will check they are fulfilling their promise, and if they are not, their leave could be cancelled,” BHC said.
The new guidelines would help ensure that police, teachers and health workers can recognise the signs of a forced marriage, take action and help victims escape.
Source: Daily Times, 25/7/2008