The Church of England is introducing new guidance aimed at preventing sham marriages. The guidance is being sent to clergy and legal officers and has been agreed with the UK Border Agency.
The guidance, developed with the UKBA, advises clergy not to offer to publish banns for any intended marriage involving a non-European Economic Area national but to direct the couple to apply for a common licence, which involves greater scrutiny and the swearing of affidavits. If a member of the clergy is not satisfied that the marriage is genuine, he or she must make that clear to the person responsible for granting the licence.
The arrangements set out in the Guidance have been approved by Immigration Minister Damian Green, under the Equality Act 2010. Written Ministerial approval has been provided which brings the new guidance into immediate effect. The Home Office will also lay a Written Ministerial Statement in early May approving these arrangements under the Equality Act 2010.
Immigration Minister Damian Green said: "The UK Border Agency already works very closely with the Church not only to investigate and disrupt suspected sham weddings but also to provide advice and support. The new guidance being launched today by the Church of England is another step in the right direction in tackling these abuses.
"Increasing enforcement action has resulted in 155 arrests across the country and would-be fraudsters should remember that a marriage itself does not equal an automatic right to remain in the UK."