for UK marriages
18 February 2015
New reforms to help officials better tackle sham marriages will be coming into effect on 2 March 2015.
The changes will affect the process for all couples giving notice of their intended marriage or civil partnership and will see couples completing a longer notice period of 28 days before they are able to marry or form a civil partnership in England or Wales.
Currently, all couples are required to register their intentions 15 days ahead of their marriage, but this period of notice has been extended in order to grant the Home Office more time to identify and investigate sham unions.
In the case of couples where one or both of the parties is a non-EEA national with limited or no immigration status, the Home Office may extend the notice period from 28 days to 70 days to allow more time to investigate whether the case is a sham.
Registrars will be obliged to refer all marriages and civil partnership notices to the Home Office if one or both of the parties is a non-EEA national and unable to provide proof of one of the following:
- Their settled status in the UK (Indefinite Leave to Enter or Remain);
- A right to permanent residence in the UK;
- A marriage or civil partnership visa;
- Their exemption from immigration controls (i.e. right of abode in the UK).
The new period of notice will apply to all marriages and civil partnerships taking place in England and Wales as of this date and is to be rolled out to Scotland and Northern Ireland in due course subject to parliamentary approval.
All couples who are planning to marry in the UK after 2 March 2015 will be affected by these changes and should read Home Office guidance to learn exactly how the changes will affect them.
If you are a UK visa holder and are concerned about the implications of marriage or civil partnership in the UK after 2 March this year, please contact Smith Stone Walters for help and advice.
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