Turning up the heat on Sham Marriages
2 March 2015 by Ties Bouwmeester
As of today, 2 March 2015, many non-UK nationals who wish to marry in the UK will face much more thorough checks by the Home Office attempting to crack down on sham marriages now that the Proposed Marriages and Civil Partnerships (Waiting Period) Regulations 2015 (SI 2015/159) have come into effect. The new rules apply to marriages and civil partnerships.
In future, any proposed marriage where one party is a non-UK national with limited or no status will be referred to the Home Office for approval prior to the marriage being allowed to take place. If a party to a proposed marriage has indefinite leave to remain in the UK the proposed marriage will not be referred, however they must prove their status when giving notice.
Couples who are referred to the Home Office can be required to wait up to 70 days before a decision is made as to whether they can marry. This is the time it can take for an investigation into the couple’s relationship to take place. Non-UK nationals who wish to marry in the Anglican Church will now be required to also give notice of their proposed marriage at a register office.
The regulations also bring into effect a change that will affect all couples wishing to marry. All Couples must now give almost twice the official notice of their intention to marry. The extension from 15 to 28 days was approved by parliament last year, as part of the regulations, in order to allow more time for investigation.
Reports of suspected sham marriages have already increased 80%. There were 1,099 reports of sham marriages between July and December 2013 which has increased to more than 2,000 in the same period in 2014.
Immigration and security minister James Brokenshire said: “As of today, marriage can no longer be seen as a ‘fast-track option’ for those seeking to abuse marriage to cheat their way into the UK.”
To view the regulations in full, please click here