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Primary Purpose Rule

Volume 210: debated on Tuesday 30 June 1992

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he intends to abolish the immigration primary purpose rule; and if he will make a statement;(2) what relaxation of the immigration primary purpose rule he has authorised; when he intends making a statement on the changes to the immigration rules he has authorised; and what information he has circulated about these changes to immigration solicitors and advisers;(3) in how many cases, over the last three months to date, his representatives before immigration appeal adjudicators and the president of the immigration appeal tribunal have sought adjournment of hearings to enable reviews of appeals to be undertaken; and in how many such cases the appellants have been spouses who have been waiting to enter the United Kingdom for more than five years with British citizen children;(4) what instructions he has issued relating to the interpretation of the immigration primary purpose rule; what is the intended effect of these instructions; and if he will publish his latest instructions;(5) how many spouses, with British citizen children, appealing against refusal to allow them to enter the United Kingdom, following a review by his Department after the adjournment of their appeal hearings this year, to date; how many such cases are now being reviewed; and what is his estimate of the number of applicants who are affected by the relaxation of the primary purpose rule he has authorised.

My right hon. and learned Friend has no plans to amend the immigration rules covering the admission of spouses for settlement. Guidance has recently been issued to staff on the application of the present Rules in the light of judicial rulings on the relevance of evidence of "intervening devotion"' in primary purpose cases. This guidance states that in principle an application from a spouse for an entry clearance or for leave to remain should be allowed when it is accepted that the marriage is genuine and subsisting and either the couple have been married for at least five years or one or more children of the marriage have the right of abode in the United Kingdom. An application might nevertheless be refused, for example, where the applicant's criminal record would make his or her exclusion conducive to the public good or where the sponsor in the United Kingdom is unable to meet the maintenance and accommodation requirements of the immigration rules. It is not possible to estimate accurately the number of applicants who may be affected by this guidance. The statistical information requested is not available. I have no plans to publish this internal guidance to staff or to circulate information about it to immigration solicitors and advisers.