In determining this, it must be ascertained and verified whether or not there is likelihood that the applicant is involved in a sham marriage.
The standard of proof used by the UKVI in determining the existence of a sham marriage is the balance of probabilities, which in layman’s term means, “it is more likely than not” (ECO-friendly will explain and delve more on this principle in a later article).
Under the Immigration Act of 1999, a sham marriage is a marriage or civil partnership between two parties where one of the following conditions is present:
- One or both of the parties is not a relevant national
- Either or both of the parties enter into the marriage or civil partnership for the purpose of circumventing UK immigration controls
- There is no genuine relationship between the parties
And what, you may ask, is a relevant national? The Immigration Act of 2021 as amended enumerates a relevant national as the following:
- a British citizen
- an Irish citizen
- a person with settled status or pre-settled status granted under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS)
- a person with a decision pending on an application for EUSS leave submitted before 1 July 2021
According to the Home Office, a caseworker, “…may refuse or cancel permission where, on a balance of probabilities, it is considered that the individual has knowingly entered, or attempted to enter, into a sham marriage or civil partnership, or has assisted another person to enter into, or attempt to enter into, a sham marriage or civil partnership (whether or not they were successful).”
It is therefore very important that at the outset of the application for the UK Spouse Visa or even for a UK Fiancée Visa or Civil Partnership the applicant gets and submits each and every document that will show that the marriage is legitimate and authentic so that the caseworker has all information and eventually decide in favour of the application.
In the case of a UK Fiancée Visa applicant, the Filipina applicant must show that a valid marriage is scheduled to be performed within six (6) months from her arrival in the UK. It is therefore very essential that the schedule for the impending marriage is attached with the application as part of the supporting documents.
But ECO-Friendly would like to emphasize that a valid scheduled marriage in the UK alone is not sufficient to prove that the wedding will be legal and authentic.
It is but natural that the ECO will need corroborative proof and so it must be coupled with other evidence of relationship which may be in the form of photos together, letters, emails and other forms of supporting documents showing relationship of the applicant with the British sponsor.
It must be stressed that the provisions on sham marriages also applies to applications for civil partnership.
In a news article which was published by The Guardian, it came out with an exclusive story detailing how, “Home Office investigators” demanded “intimate sexual details” as well as “halted genuine wedding” celebration in what the news agency called a sham marriage crackdown.
According to The Guardian news article, “…genuine couples are being prevented from getting married and are subjected to “insulting” and “gruelling” checks as part of a government crackdown on sham marriages.”
“Couples and lawyers described wedding ceremonies being interrupted so that the Home Office could question people about their sex lives, an official finding a nude picture on a person’s phone and showing it to others in the room, and dawn raids carried out to check if couples were sharing a bed,” the story disclosed.
The Guardian article added that, “…in one case, a couple were told their relationship could not be genuine because they were wearing pyjamas in bed. In others, people have been detained for months after being wrongly accused of entering into a sham marriage.”
For more details on how to avoid being tagged as involved in SHAM MARRIAGES please do not hesitate to contact ECO Immigration Consultancy.