Sham marriage

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Officers from the UK Border Agency lead away the would-be bride in an operation to prevent a sham marriage

A sham marriage or fake marriage is a marriage of convenience entered into purely for the purpose of gaining a benefit or other advantage arising from that status. Arranging or entering into such a marriage to deceive public officials is itself a separate violation of the law of some countries. While referred to as a "sham" or "fake" because of its motivation, the union itself is still legally valid if it conformed to the formal legal requirements for marriage in that country. After a period, a couple often divorces if the marriage is no longer useful.[1]

Background[edit]

Common reasons for sham marriages are to gain immigration,[2][3] residency, work or citizenship rights for one or both of the spouses, or for other benefits.

There have been cases of people entering into a sham marriage to avoid suspicion of homosexuality, lesbianism or bisexuality. For example, Hollywood studios had allegedly requested homosexual actors, such as Rock Hudson, among others, to conceal their homosexuality in a so-called lavender marriage.

Since the introduction of stricter modern immigration laws in First World countries,[4] sham marriages have become a common method to allow a foreigner to live, and possibly gain citizenship, in the more desirable country of the spouse. The couple marries with knowledge that the marriage is solely for the purpose of obtaining the favorable immigration status. This is frequently arranged as a business transaction (i.e., a substantial sum of money is paid) and occurs more commonly with foreigners already in the country.[5] The United States has a penalty of a $250,000 fine and five-year prison sentence for such arrangements.[6] The INS and the Justice Department say that they do not have accurate numbers on the rate of attempted marriage fraud.[7] In the 2009 fiscal year, 506 of the 241,154 petitions filed were denied for suspected fraud, a rate of less than 0.09%.[8]

The UK Border Agency issued guidance to clergy in April 2011 to help prevent weddings for visas. English and Welsh clergy may perform a marriage, according to the law there. They have been advised not to offer to publish banns for any marriage which involves someone from outside Europe. Instead, the couple will be asked to apply for a licence and if a member of the clergy is not satisfied that a marriage is genuine, they must make that clear to the person responsible for granting the licence.[9]

In Ireland in August 2010, it was claimed that sham marriages account for one in six marriages, residency status in the European Union and circumventing immigration rules.[10][11][12][13]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Shammarriage". The Free Dictionary By Farlex. Retrieved 2012-05-23. 
  2. ^ "Owner of Thai Ginger admits to immigration fraud - paying people to 'marry' her relatives". Bellevue Reporter. 2009-10-23. Retrieved 2011-04-11. 
  3. ^ "Thai Ginger owner sentenced for sham-marriage scheme". Seattle Times. 2010-02-19. Retrieved 2011-04-11. 
  4. ^ Walter, Sim. "Convictions for bogus marriages soar to 284: ICA". Retrieved 26 June 2014. 
  5. ^ "Shammarriage". The Free Dictionary By Farlex. Retrieved 2012-05-23. 
  6. ^ "Just Say No to Immigration Marriage Fraud". The Law Office of Tanya M. Lee. Retrieved 2012-05-23. 
  7. ^ (Manwani v. U.S. Dept. of Justice, 736 F. Supp. 1367 (W.D.N.C. 1990)).
  8. ^ "Investigating Marriage Fraud in New York". Ny Times. NY Times. June 11, 2010. Retrieved 2 April 2013. 
  9. ^ UK government Web site: Bishops act to tackle sham marriages - New UK Border Agency approved guidance for clergy should help prevent weddings for visas, 11 April 2011
  10. ^ Pain of divorce (2010-08-17). "One-in-six Irish marriages 'is a migrant sham' - City News, National News". Herald.ie. Retrieved 2010-09-04. 
  11. ^ "Registrar warns of rapid rise in 'sham marriages' - The Irish Times - Tue, Aug 17, 2010". The Irish Times. 2010-08-17. Retrieved 2010-09-04. 
  12. ^ "Few legal means to restrict rise in bogus unions - The Irish Times - Tue, Aug 17, 2010". The Irish Times. 2010-08-17. Retrieved 2010-09-04. 
  13. ^ Tuesday, August 17, 2010 - 08:07 AM (2010-08-17). "Superintendent registrar: 15% of Irish marriages could be bogus". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 2010-09-04. 

Further reading[edit]