Marriage and Civil Partnership Notice Periods to Change
15 January 2015 by Marketing Team
James Broken-Shire, the Minister for Security and Immigration, recently announced that part 4 of the immigration act 2014 is to be brought into full effect on 2nd March 2015.
This amends the procedure for marriage and civil partnership for everyone (not just foreign nationals) and creates new powers for duties to report sham marriages.
The Home Office estimates that under the new provisions, up to 35,000 marriages per year will need to be referred to the Home Office for potential investigation and that 6,000 marriages will be investigated.
Changes in the process of marriage and civil partnerships
One of the biggest changes to occur is that all marriages in England and Wales will now require 28 days notice instead of 16.
Where one of the parties to the marriage is a non-EEA national marrying in the Church of England (or Church in Wales), the parties will also need to undertake civil preliminaries and will no longer be able to use Banns instead.
The 28 day notice period can be reduced on application where there are compelling reasons to do so because of exceptional circumstances. The Registrar General can still authorize marriage in death bed cases without the notice period being complied with.
Where one of the parties is a non EEA national, both parties to a marriage will need to attend in person to give notice at a designated Registry Office and for notice to be taken specified evidence, including specified evidence of nationality, must be provided.
Where one of the parties is a non EEA national and might gain “immigration advantage”, the notice of marriage must be referred to the Home Office. In addition, if the registrar “has reasonable grounds for suspecting that the marriage will be a sham marriage” (s.24 Immigration Asylum Act 1999) then a section 24 notice is also sent to the Home Office.
If the Home Office decides not to investigate then the Home Office should inform the registrar and the marriage can proceed after the conclusion of the normal 28 day notice period. If the Home Office does decide to investigate further, then the notice period is extended to 70 days to allow time for the investigation.
The Home Office may prevent the marriage taking place where the parties fail to co-operate with the investigation.
Who is affected?
Anyone wishing to marry! The extended notice period of 28 days applies to everyone so nobody is excluded from the change.
All couples involving a non EEA national wishing to marry in the Anglican Church will need to undertake full civil preliminaries.
Also any couple where at least one party is subject to immigration control and does not have settled status, or permanent residence under EU law, or is not exempt from immigration control, may be subject to investigation where there are reasonable grounds to suspect a sham.
Risk factors are said by the Home Office to be where a party to a marriage:
- Is of a nationality at high risk of involvement in a sham, on the basis of objective information and intelligence about sham cases.
- Holds a visa in a category linked by objective information and intelligence to sham cases.
- Has no immigration status or holds leave which is due to expire shortly.
- Has had an application to remain in the UK refused.
- Has previously sponsored another spouse or partner to enter or remain in the UK.
- Is or has been the subject of a credible section 24/24A report, which explains for example how the couple could not communicate in a common language and did not know basic information about each other.
The evidence requirements may well also affect a significant number of those wishing to marry depending on the final form of the implementing regulations. For example, the Home Office had proposed that where a person asserts he or she possesses EU law permanent residence, an otherwise optional permanent residence card must be produced.
If you are intending to marry or enter into a civil partnership in near future, please do not hesitate to contact the immigration team on 01206 835270 or the family team on 01206 835320.