Subversive citizens: using free movement law to bypass the UK’s rules on marriage migration

Wray, Helena, Kofman, Eleonore ORCID logoORCID: and Simic, Agnes ORCID logoORCID: (2021) Subversive citizens: using free movement law to bypass the UK’s rules on marriage migration. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 47 (2) . pp. 447-463. ISSN 1369-183X [Article] (doi:10.1080/1369183X.2019.1625140)

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In 2012, new and restrictive spousal reunification laws were implemented in the UK. EU free movement rules however have enabled British citizens to circumvent those restrictions by residing for a period in another Member State, and then returning with their family member to the UK. The article examines the resulting tension between national and EU law. It explores use of the Surinder Singh route (named after the court case which established the rule) against a background in which a much wider group of British citizens than previously are now ineligible for family reunification under national laws. The route is perceived as a threat to government authority in a critical area of national sovereignty, as demonstrated by its invocation in the Brexit process. The article draws on interviews with twenty families who used or planned to use the route and discusses how it provides a safety valve for those with high cultural, but insufficient economic, capital to fulfil the domestic rules. It provides insight into how legal categories are fluid and contingent, demanding analytical flexibility and awareness of their dynamic effect on the lives of marriage migrants and sponsors.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Volume 47, 2021 - Issue 2: Special Issue: Contesting categories: Cross-border marriages from the perspectives of the state, spouses and researchers
Research Areas: A. > School of Law > Social Policy Research Centre
Item ID: 27691
Notes on copyright: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies on 17/07/2019, available online:
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Depositing User: Eleonore Kofman
Date Deposited: 03 Oct 2019 20:03
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 18:03

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