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News & Publication

03-12-15 Marriages, sham or otherwise

Following from the last update, it is interesting to note the impact that the Immigration Act 2014 has had on marriages involving foreign nationals. The Act partially takes us back to the days when a Certificate of Approval was required by the Secretary of State before a foreign national who was illegally in the United Kingdom could register his or her marriage.



In respect of the above, although approval is not required, investigation may be necessary especially where, as the Act states, the Secretary of State has “reasonable grounds for suspecting that the proposed marriage or civil partnership is a sham.”



Where the Secretary of State decides to investigate a proposed marriage, both parties to the proposed marriage must be notified of such a decision. This is known as a section 48 notice.



Well, what can the investigation include? Although the Act is not specific in this respect, it does helpfully outline that the Secretary of State may, by way of regulations, impose requirements for parties to provide further evidence, attend to telephone or face-to-face interviews, etc. This would appear to be consistent in practice where individuals are being called for personal interviews to determine the genuineness of their relationship.



It would be safe to say that most of us understand the concept of a “sham marriage”. However, the 2014 Act goes on to expand on this by incorporating relevant provisions within the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. It defines a sham marriage in an immigration context as one where there is no genuine relationship between the parties to the marriage and either of the parties enters into the marriage for one or more of the following purposes:


1) Avoiding the effect of one or more provisions of the UK immigration law or rules;

2) Enabling a party to the marriage to obtain a right conferred by that law or those rules to reside in the UK.

Sachan Gautam


June 2015

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