Increases in UK immigration marriage fraud has been reported.
24 March 2011
UK immigration crackdown as suspected sham marriages rise
The Home Office is stepping up measures to prevent UK immigration fraud as reports of suspected sham marriages in England and Wales have risen by 66 per cent in a year.
Registrars reported 934 suspected sham marriages in 2010, compared to 561 in 2009 and 344 the year before. Registrars must report suspicious marriages to the UK Border Agency.
Recent operations by UK Immigration officials have seen 155 arrests in regards to sham marriages, the Home Office said.
In some cases immigration officers have disrupted marriages and arrested brides, grooms and guests during ceremonies.
Registrars reported 3,578 suspected fake marriages in 2004 but this fell to 452 in 2005, the year the Certificate of Approval (COA) scheme was brought in. The scheme meant people not legally permanently settled in the UK needed Home Office permission to marry.
Figures remained below 500 a year until 2009, after the scheme was overturned by Law Lords who ruled the "arbitrary and unjust" powers discriminated against foreign nationals.
A Home Office spokesman said increased emphasis was now being placed on intelligence gathering, with specialist teams working with registrars and churches.