UK spouse visa shams 'on the rise'

24 Mar 2011 | Posted by Carl Thomas

The latest figures from the Home Office suggest that shams for UK spouse visas are on the rise.

Published today (March 24th), the report stated that suspected sham marriages have risen by 66 per cent over the course of the past year.

In 2008, there were 344 suspected sham marriages arranged for UK spouse visas. By 2009 this figure had risen to 561 and in 2010 it had reached 934.

Meanwhile, the Home Office claims to be increasing its efforts to prevent the fake weddings from taking place.

Recent targeted operations have resulted in 155 arrests regarding sham marriages, according to the UK Border Agency. The agency stated that it has achieved this through working with registrars, helping the people conducting the weddings to identify if they are genuine or not.

The Home Office had also introduced a certificate of approval scheme in order to minimise the number of shams taking place.

Implementing this scheme forced people who are not legally permanently resident in the UK to seek Home Office permission to marry before the ceremony could be conducted.

However, the Law Lords ruled in 2008 that these powers discriminated against foreign nationals and their human rights.

As such, changes were made to the scheme. The Home Office claim that these made it ineffective in countering the practice of sham marriages and as such, the certificate is due to be scrapped shortly.

Damian Green, the minister for immigration, commented on the news of the increased level of sham marriages: "We will not tolerate immigration abuse, including sham marriages.

"The most effective action is to increase our enforcement efforts and work closely with registrars and churches to identify marriages that may not be genuine."