New Age Limit for Australian Marriage Visa Proposed

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Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee in the Australian senate has made the proposal that prospective applicants for the Australian marriage visa must have a minimum age of 18 years. The new rule will help fight against human trafficking and forced marriage.

A further recommendation which the committee has submitted to the Australian Department of Immigration and citizenship is that the electronic database of the department is modified so that statistical information about fraud and cheating attempts can be extracted.

The current database does not store information for the marriages that have been actually arranged after the visa had been granted. It is therefore impossible to know how many of the applicants really married after having entered the country. During the last six years, more than 35 000 marriage visas have been granted to prospective applicants from all over the world.

Most of the applicants are coming from Manila, Ho Chi Minh City, Shanghai, London, Bangkok, Beirut, Berlin, Moscow, Washington and New Delhi. Some 253 of those applications were made from people, who are under 18 years of age and 227 of those 253 applications were approved.

Fifty per cent of the sponsors in Australia was at least 8 years older than their partners and 8% were twice their age. In order for someone to apply for the visa, he or she must be at least 17 years and 3 months old so that he can turn 18 when he/she will be legally allowed to marry in Australia.

Since younger people are more likely to be a victim of human trafficking and forced marriage, the Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee proposed every applicant, who is under 18 to be formally interviewed in order to be told the definition of forced marriage and laws regarding family violence on arriving in Australia.

Except for the above-mentioned problems, the conclusion of the committee was that there is no need for a complete reform of the program because the investigation revealed that the number of forced marriages were actually insignificant. Furthermore, the cases where older people were using the marriage visa to prey on younger people were also occurring.

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