Given the myriad of reasons why people get married, the question that readily comes to mind with the immigration process is at what point would a marriage be seen as a marriage of convenience in the eyes of the law? Practically speaking, a marriage is seen as a marriage of convenience mostly if it is entered into for the purpose of facilitating being able to remain in the UK. Take a scenario where a couple get married having barely know each other. They are then interviewed by the Home Office and on review, it is decided by the Home Office that the marriage is of Convenience. This would result in a refusal and the remaining requirements not being fully considered.

It is easy to assume that once an individual is married to a British or European national citizen, s/he will automatically gain rights to live in the UK. This argument, stemming from the premise that the two “individualsare seen as one”, cannot be wholly relied upon to obtain rights to live and work in the UK. As a matter of fact, clerics and registries have a legal obligations to report any marriage application that they have reason to believe is a marriage of convenience to the authorities.

Part 8 of the Immigration Rules discloses the requirements for entry as a spouse, civil partner, fiancée or prospective civil partner. That “Each of the parties intends to live permanently with the other as his or her spouse or civil partner and the marriage or civil partnership is subsisting”. Generally, every genuine relationship should have the above elements and should be able to meet the legal requirements in the UK.

How long can I stay in the UK with my spouse if my visa is approved?

Individuals who have obtained leave as the spouse, civil partner of a British national or a settled person in the UK are able to stay in the UK for an initial 2 years; after which they may be eligible for a further 2.5 year extension. After 5 years, they may than qualify to apply for Indefinite leave to remain, as long as the relationship still subsists and they meet other immigration requirements.

However, there is a slight difference when a non-British/European national marries an EEA national. In this situation, where the EEA national is exercising their free movement rights in the UK, such an individual (the non-British partner) does not have to apply to UK Border Agency for permission to remain in the UK as a family member of an EEA national. It is important to state here that parties to a “marriage of convenience” are not included in these provisions.

Here at Reiss Edwards we have noted the frequent application of Regulation 12. In this situation, the burden in proving, on the balance of probabilities, that there has been a marriage of convenience shifts to the Home Office. She must provide satisfactory evidence that the marriage is one of convenience. If simply quoting the EEA regulations without satisfactory evidence, on appeal, the decision should be overturned by an immigration judge.