Immigration change sparks Pakistan wedding boom

"Immigration adviser" Faisal Mehmood has seen a rush of wedding applications in Mirpur, Pakistan, during the last month

"Immigration adviser" Faisal Mehmood has seen a rush of wedding applications in Mirpur, Pakistan, during the last month

The AFP news agency reports a sudden surge in marriages in Pakistan.  What has prompted this romantic spasm? A change this month in British immigration law!

Pakistan’s marriage boom has been concentrated in the state of Mirpur, home to about one-sixth of British Pakistani immigrants.  (The phone-in programme on Mirpur’s local radio station Rose FM is broadcast simultaneously in Pakistan and Bradford.)

New immigration laws which came into effect on July 9th mean that only those with annual earnings of more than £18,600 will be allowed to bring a foreign husband or wife into Britain.  Moreover such spouses must wait five years before they can acquire British nationality (whereas the old law was just two years).

So Pakistanis rushed to get married and beat the ban.  One “immigration consultant”, Faisal Mehmood, says that he assisted 53 couples just in the first week of July, compared to his usual workload of six to eight cases per week.

But those who failed to get the paperwork in on time should perhaps not worry too much: partly due to the Olympic Games, Britain’s border controls are in even more of a shambles than usual.  Hundreds of staff with no immigration experience have been drafted in as part of a desperate effort to cut queues.

The independent chief inspector of border and immigration, John Vine, is warning: “about the potential risks of employing staff on the immigration control who had received only basic training and who had no immigration background/experience.”

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