14 October 2014
Following calls from some EU member states for help in tackling sham marriages between EU and non-EU citizens, a European Commission handbook has presented guidelines for the safeguarding of EU citizens’ right to free movement whilst effectively dealing with marriages of convenience.
‘The right to free movement is fundamental and at the heart of EU citizenship. It is non-negotiable’ – Martine Reicherts, EU Justice Commissioner
The handbook has been put forward with a view to providing member states and their local authorities with ‘concrete operational guidance’ to deal effectively with the problem of sham EU marriages whilst assisting them in minimising the danger of falsely identifying marriages of convenience.
Sham marriages between EU citizens and non-EU nationals have recently hit the headlines in the UK and are steadily becoming a large part of what is termed as ‘irregular immigration’. Since the legalisation of same-sex marriages in March this year, criminal gangs have apparently been touting sham gay weddings to those wanting to dodge immigration controls and it is believed that up to 30% of marriages in London now take place for the avoidance of immigration control.
Emphasizing the government’s on-going approach to fighting abuse within the UK immigration system, the Minister for Immigration and Security James Brokenshire stated that ‘registrars will be given new powers later this year to better identify all fraudulent marriages’.