Marriage of Convenience

Home Department written question – answered on 14th May 2014.

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Photo of Charlie Elphicke Charlie Elphicke Conservative, Dover

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department

(1) how many incidents of immigration marriage fraud through bigamy have been reported to her Department in each year since 2004;

(2) if she will bring forward legislative proposals to include (a) marriage fraud and (b) marriage achieved through a material misrepresentation in the criteria for the annulment of a marriage;

(3) what steps her Department is taking to tackle (a) immigration marriage fraud and (b) immigration marriage fraud through bigamy;

(4) how many people convicted of immigration marriage fraud through bigamy have been deported in each year since 2004;

(5) how many successful prosecutions for immigration marriage fraud through bigamy there have been in each year since 2004;

(6) what steps she is taking to ensure that all those convicted of marriage fraud through bigamy are deported;

(7) what joint actions her Department is taking with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to tackle immigration marriage fraud through bigamy;

(8) what steps her Department takes to assist the victims of immigration marriage fraud through bigamy.

Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire Minister of State (Home Office) (Security and Immigration)

We do not separately record the number of allegations of immigration marriage fraud through bigamy.

We have no plans to change the law on the annulment of marriages. The Immigration Bill will introduce new measures to prevent sham marriages gaining an immigration advantage. Immigration Enforcement is strengthening its response to all cases of suspected immigration marriage fraud, by piloting operational hubs designed to react quickly to reports of suspicious marriages from registrars or members of the public.

We do not separately record the number of people deported following a conviction for immigration marriage fraud through bigamy. Nor do we separately record the number of successful prosecutions for immigration marriage fraud through bigamy.

UK Visas and Immigration and Immigration Enforcement, including the Risk and Liaison Overseas Network, work with Foreign and Commonwealth Office staff overseas to investigate suspected immigration marriage fraud. This includes accessing local records to ascertain whether someone is married already and providing that information to staff making immigration decisions.

The Home Office will normally pursue the deportation of foreign nationals where they have been convicted of a criminal offence and sentenced to a period of imprisonment of at least 12 months. Where a foreign national has been convicted but has received a shorter sentence, consideration will be given to deporting them. If deportation is not appropriate, administrative removal may be pursued, for example, if the person has no leave to enter or remain in the UK or if their leave is curtailed.

Bigamy is a criminal offence. Where the Home Office receives information about suspected bigamy, this is passed to the relevant police force to investigate. It will also be noted on Home Office systems to inform the consideration of any immigration application seeking to rely on the marriage.

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