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Louisa Gothard
Louisa Gothard
Senior Solicitor, Head of Family Law
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Marriages to foreign nationals under the spotlight
Date:2 MAR 2015
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The Proposed Marriages and Civil Partnerships (Waiting Period) Regulations 2015 (SI 2015/159) come into effect today, 2 March 2015. Many non-UK nationals who are planning to marry in the UK will face tougher checks by the Home Office in an effort to crack down on sham marriages. The new rules will also apply to civil partnerships.

Nigel Smith of Paragon Law says:

'If one of the parties to a proposed marriage or civil partnership is a non-UK/non-EEA national with limited or no status then the proposed marriage or civil partnership will be referred to the Home Office before the ceremony is allowed to take place. Those present in the UK with indefinite leave to remain, EU right of permanent residence or right of abode will not be referred but they must evidence their status adequately when giving notice.'
The key points of the new scheme, according to Nigel Smith, are:

  • All couples in the UK planning to marry must now give notice of their intention to do so 28 days before marrying (previously the notice period was 15 days);
  • Non-UK/non-EEA nationals with limited or no status in the UK who give notice to marry or enter into a civil partnership will be referred to the Home Office;
  • Those couples referred to the Home Office may be required to wait 70 days before marrying if a decision is taken to investigate the relationship;
  • Non-UK/non EEA nationals who wish to marry in the Anglican Church will now be required to give notice at a register office also. 
  • EEA nationals (including British citizens) will need to provide specified evidence of their citizenship to the Anglican Church prior to being married by the church.
  • All non-UK/non-EEA nationals who are not exempt from immigration control will now need to give notice of their marriage at a designated register office (there will be 75 such designated offices nationwide) rather than at the office in the district in which they reside.
Orders are in place which extend the referral and investigation scheme to Scotland and Northern Ireland and transitional arrangements are in place for couples who have given notice prior to 2 March 2015.

Couples who will be subject to referral may wish to seek immigration advice prior to giving notice of their intention to marry.

The Proposed Marriages and Civil Partnerships (Waiting Period) Regulations 2015 are available to download here.
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