The Government is launching a fresh crackdown on sham marriages arranged as a route to obtaining a UK visa.
New figures revealed that around 11 suspected fake marriages are reported every week by registrars and the figure is rising year-on-year. More than 2,000 potential sham marriages were reported in the six months to December last year, a rise of more than 80 per cent on the July to December period in 2013.
More than 1,200 people were arrested and 430 people removed from the UK during a crackdown on the issue from April to December last year.
Now, under the terms of the Immigration Act, registrars are required to make a report every time they suspect a couple is entering into a sham marriage.
In addition, the Home Office is increasing the notice required for couples to marry from 15 days to 28. In cases where a sham marriage is suspected, this could be increased to 70 days to allow officials to investigate the relationship.
Further action is also being taken against EU nationals who try to arrange or take part in sham marriages in return for monetary gain. They can now be removed from the UK and banned from re-entering the country.
Immigration Minister James Brokenshire said: “Marriage can no longer be seen as the fast-track option for those seeking to cheat their way into the UK.
“This Government have done more than any other to clamp down on sham marriage and the Immigration Act has given us the strongest platform to identify abuse.”