Statement of changes to the Immigration Rules
The Minister of State for Immigration (Damian Green):
The changes in the Immigration Rules being laid before the House today are as a result of the Supreme Court judgement in R (on the application of Quila and another) (FC) v Secretary of State for the Home Department and R (on the application of Bibi and another) (FC) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  UKSC 45.
On 12 October 2011, the Supreme Court found that whilst they recognised that the Secretary of State was pursuing a legitimate and rational aim of seeking to address forced marriage, a rule (increasing the minimum marriage visa age from 18 to 21) disproportionately interfered with the Article 8 rights of those who were in genuine marriages. Accordingly, the Secretary of State has decided to revert to a minimum age of 18.
The changes will take effect on 28 November and will reduce the minimum age at which a person may be granted entry clearance or leave as the spouse, civil partner, fiancé(e), proposed civil partner, unmarried or same-sex partner of a sponsor, and the minimum age at which a person may sponsor such an application, from 21 to 18 years. It will also delete references to a minimum age of 18 for entry clearance or leave as the spouse, civil partner, fiancé(e), proposed civil partner, unmarried or same-sex partner of a HM Forces sponsor, and the minimum age at which a member of HM Forces may sponsor such an application. Guidance for those affected by the judgment will be published on the UK Border Agency website.
There is no place in British society for the practice of forced marriage. It is a breach of human rights and a form of violence against the victims. That is why the Prime Minister has announced that the Government will criminalise the breach of Forced Marriage Civil Protection Orders and that there will be a consultation on making forcing someone to marry an offence in its own right.
We are also investigating what more we can do to identify and protect those young people who have been placed at additional risk.
Habib Rahman, Chief Executive of JCWI responded to the judgment saying
We welcome this move from the Government to treat all spouses and partners equally. We are happy to see that the common sense prevails, and hope that the Government will put in place appropriate arrangments to deal swiftly and fairly with those individuals who were refused visas/leave on account of this unjust and discriminatory rule.