Sham marriage checks tightened as Home Office continue clampdown

New requirements have been introduced for people suspected of conducting a sham marriage for immigration purposes. The new rules are part of the government’s ongoing clampdown on sham marriages, as well as other breaches of the Immigration Rules.

Under the new rules, if a couple is suspected of having a sham marriage they can be made to wait for up to 70 days whilst case workers investigate if the relationship is genuine or not. These new powers follow greater duties placed on marriage registrars to report suspected sham marriages to the Home Office.

Your notice period for marriage can be extended to 70 days if you:

  • are from outside the EEA or Switzerland
  • have limited or no immigration status in the UK
  • don’t give the registrar enough evidence to show you’re settled in the UK

You may be interviewed by the Home Office or asked for more information as part of the investigation. You must comply with the investigation or you won’t be allowed to get married or form a civil partnership.

If you are planning on getting married, including civil partnerships, in the UK then you must make sure you have met all the requirements, as detailed on the website.

You need to give at least 28 days’ notice at your register office ahead of the ceremony. You may have to give notice if you plan to marry overseas.

You need to take proof of your name, date of birth, nationality and address to the designated register office. You will also have to pay a small fee (£35 if you have all the documents required, £47 if not). You will also be asked about your partner’s immigration status if they’re from outside the EEA or Switzerland (or your partner will be asked about your status if you’re from outside the EEA or Switzerland).

Immigration and Security Minister James Brokenshire said:

‘Between April and December 2014, the Home Office carried out over 2,000 sham marriage operations resulting in over 1,200 arrests and more than 430 illegal immigrants have been removed from the UK as a result.

The government has also introduced new removal and re-entry ban powers for EU nationals who attempt to abuse free movement rights by participating in sham marriages for cash.

Non-EU nationals who try to organise or participate in a sham marriage face being immediately detained until their enforced removal. Any outstanding leave to remain can be curtailed.’


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