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Government set to crack down on ‘sham marriages’

Marriages and Civil Partnerships Regulations 2015 place unions to foreign nationals under the Home Office spotlight

2 March 2015

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Under new regulations from today, non-UK nationals planning to marry in the UK will face tougher checks by the Home Office in an effort to crack down on sham marriages.

The Marriages and Civil Partnerships Regulations 2015 state that if one of the parties to a proposed marriage or civil partnership is a non-UK/non-EEA national with limited or no status then the proposed marriage or civil partnership will be referred to the Home Office before the ceremony is allowed to take place.

Nigel Smith, a senior immigration caseworker at Paragon Law, stressed that those in the UK with indefinite leave to remain, EU right of permanent residence or right of abode, will not be referred but they must evidence their status adequately when giving notice.

All couples planning to marry in the UK must now give notice of their intention to do so 28 days beforehand. The new rules will also apply to civil partnerships.

Non-UK/non-EEA nationals with limited or no status in the UK who give notice to marry or enter into a civil partnership will be referred to the Home Office. Couples referred to the Home Office may be required to wait 70 days before marrying if a decision is taken to investigate the relationship.

Further, non-UK/non EEA nationals wishing to marry in the Anglican Church are now also required to give notice at a register office. Such nationals, including British citizens, will need to provide specified evidence of their citizenship to the Anglican Church before being married.

All non-UK/non-EEA nationals not exempt from immigration control will now need to give notice of their marriage at a designated register office rather than the office in the district they reside.

In addition, orders are in place which extend the referral and investigation scheme to Scotland and Northern Ireland and transitional arrangements are in place for couples who have given notice prior to 2 March 2015.

John van der Luit-Drummond is legal reporter for Solicitors Journal

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Marriage & Civil partnership