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Entry Clearances: Married People

Volume 495: debated on Tuesday 7 July 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department on how many occasions an application for a marriage visa has been refused on the basis of violence or coercion of a spouse since 1997; and if he will make a statement. (282244)

The grounds for refusing a spouse visa as set out in the Immigration Rules are that the following requirements are not met:

(i) (a) The applicant is married to or the civil partner of a person present and settled in the United Kingdom or who is on the same occasion being admitted for settlement; or

(b)(i) the applicant is married to or the civil partner of a person who has a right of abode in the United Kingdom or indefinite leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom and is on the same occasion seeking admission to the United Kingdom for the purposes of settlement and the parties were married or formed a civil partnership at least four years ago, since which time they have been living together outside the United Kingdom; and

(b)(ii) the applicant has sufficient knowledge of the English language and sufficient knowledge about life in the United Kingdom, unless he is under the age of 18 or aged 65 or over at the time he makes his application; and

(ii) the parties to the marriage or civil partnership have met; and

(iii) each of the parties intends to live permanently with the other as his or her spouse or civil partner and the marriage or civil partnership is subsisting; and

(iv) there will be adequate accommodation for the parties and any dependants without recourse to public funds in accommodation which they own or occupy exclusively; and

(v) the parties will be able to maintain themselves and any dependants adequately without recourse to public funds.

As such we do not keep records of visas refused where coercion may have been a factor in determining the nature of the relationship. In 2008 the forced marriage unit of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office dealt with 200 immigration-related cases.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the timetable is for the review of the policy of no recourse to public funds for those entering the UK on a spouse visa in relation to people who are victims of domestic violence and trafficking. (282908)

The Home Office and the UK Border Agency are working together to introduce a new scheme for victims of domestic violence whose applications for indefinite leave to remain under the domestic violence rule are successful. The scheme will provide a contribution towards the housing and living costs incurred by the supporting organisation, while the applicant’s ILR application was outstanding with the UK Border Agency.

The scheme was due to be implemented in June 2009, however, Ministers and stakeholders raised concerns about whether the scheme adequately supported victims. We are taking further time to consider these concerns.

The Council of Europe Convention on Trafficking came into force on 1 April and has provisions for identified victims to access a 45 day reflection period which gives access to accommodation and other services.