Government announce tougher checks to tackle sham marriages

Published: 10th March 2015

The government have launched The Marriages and Civil Partnerships Regulations 2015 with the aim of giving the Home Office more power to investigate non-UK nationals planning to get married in the UK.

The new regulations, described as the 'largest shake-up of marriage and civil partnership preliminaries for a generation' have been introduced to help to identify sham marriages and couples who are trying to cheat the immigration system.

If a non-UK or non-EEA citizen with no or limited status plans to get married to someone from the UK, their proposed marriage or civil partnership will be subject to Home Office checks before the ceremony can take place.

If the marriage or civil partnership is suspected of being for the purpose of immigration only, the couple will be subject to an extended 70 day notice period to allow the Home Office additional time to investigate whether or not the proposed ceremony is a sham.

This announcement follows on from previous changes to the Immigration Act that were introduced last July, which gave registrars more power to report any marriages they suspect are a sham to the Home Office. In the first 6 months since these changes were introduced, the number of suspected sham marriages has increased by over 80% when compared to the same period the year before, with over 2,000 report cases from July - December 2014.

Speaking at the launch of these new regulations on 2nd March 2015, James Brokenshire, Minister for Immigration and Security said, "This government has done more than any before it to clamp down on sham marriage and the Immigration Act has given us the strongest ever platform to identify and disrupt such abuse."

"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."

The Home Office have investigated over 2,000 suspected sham marriages from April - December 2014, which has resulted in over 1,200 arrests and over 430 illegal immigrants being removed from the UK.

As well as these new regulations, the government have also announced new powers to remove and refuse entry to EU nationals who attempt to abuse free movement rights by participating in sham marriages for financial gain. Any non-EU nationals who try and participate in a sham marriage or civil partnership face being detained immediately until their enforced removal.

At K J Smith Solicitors, our experience team have dealt with a range of Civil Partnership issues as well as matters relating to divorce and separation. For more information or to arrange a free 45 minute consultation, please contact K J Smith Solicitors today on 01491 630000 (Henley-on-Thames), 020 7070 0330 (Central London), 0118 418 1000 (Reading), 01753 325000 (Windsor) or 01256 584000 (Basingstoke).

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