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Sham Marriages

One of the biggest problems to affect the Spouse Visa route in the UK is the issue of sham marriages. These are marriages of convenience, where one of the participants is either a British citizen or has settled status and the purpose of entering the marriage is purely to obtain the right to remain in the UK on a spouse visa

For a long period of time, the issue of sham marriages was front page news, with investigations taking place all over the country into the validity of many marriages which were taking place at the time. Nowadays mainstream media news of sham marriages is pretty rare, but many believe these still exist and take place regularly across the country. in response to this the British government opted to make significant changes to the way in which marriages were investigated as to whether or not they were sham marriages.

Consequently, where one party to a marriage is subject to immigration control and seek to deposit their notice of intention to marry at a Registry Office, the Registrar will be forced to refer the marriage to the Home Office. The Home Office will then decide whether or not they intend to investigate the relationship before the couple are permitted to marry. In the event that the Home Office do intend to investigate the relationship, the waiting time before the couple can marry is extended to 70 days. In the event that the Home Office do not intend to investigate the relationship, the traditional 28 days waiting period will apply before the couple can marry.

These changes coupled with the changes in the visa regulations (such as now requiring an extension application after 2.5 years as well as extending the 'probation period from 2 years to 5 years) now ensure that relationships are seen as 'credible' by the Home Office before using an applicant with a spouse or partner based visa or granting an applicant Indefinite Leave to Remain based on their marriage.

What To Do If You're Looking to Get Married in the UK.

If you're looking to get married in the UK, you have little to worry about to demonstrate that your relationship is genuine. While your local registry office has a duty to ensure that your relationship is credible and genuine, they are not trying to catch you out - they have a duty to inform the Home Office of any marriage where one of the party to the marriage is subject to immigration control.

Although being subject to an investigation may sound like a worrisome and difficult prospect, the reality is that a genuine relationship can be evidenced by way of supporting documents such as evidence of cohabitation (if applicable), photographs and contact (such as telephone calls or messages). In any event these documents will be required for a spouse visa and so collating them in advance will simply save you time after your marriage. Discussing your relationship with the Home Office in an interview environment should also be a straightforward affair.

Future of Sham Marriages

As investigation techniques and technology become ever more sophisticated, life will get harder for those who intend to commit fraud. Conversely, issues such as Brexit mean the immigration picture in the UK is likely to change significantly in the coming years. With relatively unstable governments also being more likely in the near future, it's now uncertain as to what changes will be made in the future as far as immigration is concerned. But, if one thing is clear, it's that changes are likely to take place in the UK's immigration system.

It's hoped that technological advances will help to ensure only eligible migrants will be able to access the immigration system in the UK. Fixing this would not only be good news for the Home Office (by helping reduce the pressure), it would also be good news for genuine migrants, ensuring they do not get caught up in overwhelmingly wide future policies. A technologically more advanced Home Office that could filter applications better means more capacity to help those that are eligible. We can only hope the Home Office continues to get better in detecting fraud so genuine migrants can benefit.

Where Can We Get More Help

Our immigration experts can help you to move to the UK and can be there to help when you need immigration support. We have represented many couples in the past to prove the credibility of their relationship and we can certainly assist you. If you need help with the UK's Spouse Visa route or are concerned about your ability to settle in the UK, get in touch with one of our specialists who will be more than able to aid you through the process.

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