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Immigration: Marriage

Volume 699: debated on Monday 3 March 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will make it a requirement for obtaining a visa that men and women coming to the United Kingdom for the purposes of getting married should be at least 21 years old and able to speak and understand English. [HL1994]

Two consultation documents were published on 5 December 2007: one on proposals to tackle forced marriage, and the other on the proposal to introduce a pre-entry English language requirement for spouses. These consultations fulfil the promises made in our strategy “Securing the UK Border”, published in March 2007, to consult on new arrangements for marriage visas.

We are proposing a range of measures to address the problem of forced marriage. One of these proposals is that the minimum age at which a person can sponsor a marriage partner from overseas should be raised from 18 to 21. The same minimum age would apply to the person being sponsored. The Government's strong view is that those who intend to come here to marry should have a knowledge of English. The consultation on the proposal to introduce a pre-entry English language requirement for spouses discusses the key issues around how a requirement of this nature might work in practice.

The consultation periods will run for 12 weeks and the final date for responses is 27 February 2008. The results of the consultations will be published shortly.