Orthodox seek visa law change

The Government is looking at proposals to offset new visa laws which have hit young strictly Orthodox Jews who want to marry partners from abroad.

The age for a spouse being granted permission to live in Britain was raised last November from 18 to 21 in a move designed mainly to combat forced marriages among the Asian community.

But representatives of the Charedi community, whose members traditionally marry young, say that this is stopping young people from Israel or the US coming to marry in the UK.

Chanoch Kesselman, executive co-ordinator of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations, said that an alternative idea had been put to the Home Office.

An authorised rabbi and marriage registrar would interview both partners and if satisfied that the marriage was taking place with “the full and free consent” of both, he would sign a document to that effect.

“This document could then be presented to the Home Office to grant a visa to enter the country for the purposes of marriage,” he said. “The Home Office are working on the practicalities of such a system, without prejudicing other minority groups.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “We have listened to the Jewish community’s concerns about the impact of the marriage visa age increase and their suggestion for an alternative system. Ministers are examining the proposal and this consideration is ongoing.” 

    Last updated: 6:25pm, June 3 2009