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Immigration and Asylum Act 1999

Section 24: Duty to report suspicious marriages

88.This section places a duty on superintendent registrars and certain others to report to the Home Office marriages which they reasonably suspect as being sham marriages (as defined). At present there is no such obligation. The purpose is to enable the Home Office to obtain early warning of possible suspicious marriages so that they may be investigated. It does not confer power to refuse to marry on grounds of immigration status. Nor does it confer powers on registrars or others to question couples about their immigration status.

89.Subsection (1) places the duty to report, where there are reasonable grounds for suspecting a sham marriage, on those registration officers in England and Wales to whom notice is given or who attest a notice of marriage under the Marriage Act 1949, on district registrars in Scotland to whom notice of marriage or a certificate is submitted under the Marriage (Scotland) Act 1977 and on registrars and deputy registrars in Northern Ireland to whom notice has been given under the Marriages (Ireland) Act 1844 or the Marriage Law (Ireland) Amendment Act 1863.

90.Subsection (2) provides for the duty to apply where a marriage is solemnised in the presence of a registrar of marriages, and in Scotland to authorised registrars, where before, during or immediately after solemnisation of the marriage the registration officer has reasonable grounds for suspecting the marriage is or will be a sham marriage.

91.Subsection (3) establishes the duty to report to the Secretary of State; and requires it to be without delay and in such form and manner as may be set out in regulations.

92.Subsection (4) provides for regulations to be made (a) in relation to England and Wales by the Registrar General for England and Wales (with the approval of the Chancellor); (b) in relation to Scotland by the Secretary of State after consulting the Registrar General of Births, Deaths and Marriages for Scotland; and (c) in relation to Northern Ireland by the Secretary of State, after consulting the Registrar General in Northern Ireland.

93.Subsection (5) defines a sham marriage as a marriage entered into between a person (“A”) who is neither a British citizen nor a national of an EEA State other than the United Kingdom and another person (whether or not such a citizen or national); and entered into by A for the purpose of avoiding the effect of one or more provisions of United Kingdom immigration law or the immigration rules.

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