Subject: [Stop-traffic] News/UK: Special licence abolished to stop sham marriages
From: Melanie Orhant (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Thu Nov 09 2000 - 10:57:03 EST
Special licence abolished to stop sham marriages
By Nick Allen
Press Association (UK), December 1, 2000
Couples will have to wait at least 16 days before they can tie the knot
under new rules aimed at cracking down on "sham" marriages.
Marriages by special licence, which make it possible for someone to get
married after being in the country just a few days, are being scrapped
under immigration legislation which comes into force in January.
Under the new rules both bride and groom will have to be resident in
England or Wales for seven days before they can give notice of their
intention to marry.
Both will then have to attend a register office to give notice of their
intention to marry and wait a further 16 days before they wed.
If they suspect a bogus marriage registrars will have to report it to the
The changes will apply to all marriages preceded by civil preliminaries -
those in a register office or other approved premises.
They do not affect marriages in the Church of England or Church in Wales,
which are preceded by separate ecclesiastical preliminaries.
A Home Office spokesman said: "These measures are designed to eradicate
abuse of the immigration system by those who are prepared to enter into
marriage for the purpose of avoiding UK immigration controls.
"There is evidence to show that a large number of sham marriages are being
contracted in the UK every year.
"When a sham marriage is suspected the registrar will have a formal duty to
report it to the Home Office."
At the moment, when couples apply for marriage by special licence one of
them has to have been resident in England or Wales for 15 days.
The other person only has to have been resident for one day.
Only one of them has to go to the register office to give notice of their
intention to marry and they can be married two days later.
No public notice is put up at the register office announcing the marriage.
They pay £25 when they give notice of their intention to marry and an extra
£46.50 when they get the licence.
Most couples currently opt for the alternative, cheaper option of marriage
To apply for this both have to have been resident for at least seven days.
If they live in the same district only one has to go to the register office
to give notice that they intend to marry, but if they live in different
districts both have to go.
A public notice about their marriage is put up at the register office and
they have to wait 21 days before being married.
Under the new system there will be no special licence marriages and the
waiting time for marriages by certificate will be reduced from 21 to 16 days.
Both bride and groom will have to go to the register office to give notice
of their intention to marry regardless of where they live.
They will be required to produce evidence of their name, age, marital
status and nationality.
Superintendent registrars will be able to refuse authority for a marriage
if they are not satisfied that someone is free to marry in this country.
The fee for giving notice that they intend to marry will rise from £25 to
£30 for each notice.
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