Monday, 6 October 2008

Love knows no boundaries

Love overcomes all barriers. Apparently. That includes the Home Office Border Agency.

There was a time when obtaining permission to get married meant appeasing parents.

More recently it alluded to convincing priests that you really had been going to church all this time, not just at Christmas and Easter if at all. Now getting a certificate of approval is required for all non-British people who dare to marry someone from these shores.

There will be those who say that it will stop marriages of convenience. But charging £295 and requiring a couple of photographs is hardly the way to do it. It’s not a measure to stop illegal immigration; it’s a method of raising revenue. Just like the £500 it cost for Diana’s Leave to Remain (and the £500 is cost last year too). Now doubt, once we’re married Diana’s visa will need to be altered to reflect her right to remain here indefinitely. That’s the big one at £795.

Marriage will not get Diana her ‘indefinite leave to remain straight away’. Marriage will give Diana another two years on her visa. After a further two years she will get resident status.

There are many conflicts here. First is the desire amongst our politicians to promote the family as the means of fixing an apparently broken society. Second is the desire amongst our politicians to promote strict immigration controls as a means of preventing our society becoming ever more broken. Third comes the promise to keep taxes low, direct income tax that is. Well, taxing foreigners who want to come here, or who are already here is hardly going to be unpopular as it helps to reinforce the fears stoked by numbers one and two.

And so marriage becomes a political football. Except for those involved. So, for those invited, forgive us if we don’t have a brass band at our wedding in October 2009, if we try and pass off the wedding cake as dessert or if we don’t have the finest champagne. Just remember the £1100 we’ve had to pay the government and enjoy the party we have managed to put on.