The number of suspected sham marriages being reported by registrars has doubled in four years, official Home Office figures show
The number of suspected sham marriages being reported by registrars has doubled in four years, official figures have shown.
Some 2,135 marriages were reported as suspicious by registrars last year, up from 934 in 2010.
The Home Office figures come after John Vine, the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, warned that people involved in bogus marriages were often not being prosecuted unless they were part of an organised criminal gang.
Keith Vaz, the home affairs committee chairman, said the figures were “worrying”. He said: “The significant increase in recent years raises serious questions over the processing, reporting and investigation of suspicious unions.
“It is vital that all applications for admission to this country are subjected to appropriate levels of scrutiny. Any person suspected of abusing the system should be investigated thoroughly.”
The law obliges registrars to inform the Home Office if they have “reasonable grounds to suspect that a marriage or civil partnership is a sham being entered into for immigration purposes”.
There are concerns that growing numbers of EU nationals with a right to reside in Britain are being used to secure passports for people outside the continent.
More than a third of EU nationals, 36 per cent, applying to stay in this country were born outside the EU and had gained European nationality before arriving in Britain.
Last week two women from Bulgaria were jailed after being flown from their native country to Manchester to marry Pakistani men facing deportation.
Nadya Kamenova, 20, and Tamenuzhka Slavcheva, 21, were recruited by sham marriage organisers on Skype, the internet video telephone service, and agreed to marry the men, one of whose student visas had been rescinded. They received 20 and 12 months respectively for undermining the immigration system. Slavcheva’s ceremony was monitored by undercover border officials who had been tipped off by staff at Manchester Register Office.
Earlier this week Mr Vine disclosed how a new type of sham marriage involving “proxy weddings” was being used by people from outside the EU to gain residency rights in Britain.
The scam involves couples, including an EU national with a “free movement” right to be in Britain, marrying in overseas ceremonies. The marriage certificate is then used to win residency rights for the non-European spouse.
The EU national does not even have to attend the “proxy ceremonies”, which are legal in countries such as Nigeria, Ghana and Brazil, and can send a third party in their place. Britain must accept the marriage if it was conducted properly.
A spot check carried out by the Home Office last year found 19 per cent of marriage documents being submitted related to proxy marriages.
A backlog of residency applications built up between 2010 and 2012, and Mr Vine voiced fears that efforts to clear the cases meant they did not all receive proper scrutiny.
It may mean foreigners who did not deserve to win permission to stay in this country slipped through the net, he said.
via – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/immigration/10921499/Sham-marriages-double-in-four-years-Home-Office-figures-show.html