The increase in sham marriages has created an “industry of deceit” in the UK, a committee of MPs has suggested.
In a newly published report, the Home Affairs committee examined the issue of sham marriages and their effect on immigration.
Sham marriages are entered into for the sole purpose of one spouse gaining entry to the UK.
The committee concluded that sham marriages amounted to an industry which is “increasing at an alarming rate”. They also claimed that the government did not truly understand the scale of the problem.
The government should train registrars to identify potential sham marriages, the committee said. They also called for a change in the law which would allow registrars to cancel a wedding if they were confident it was a sham.
Publishing the number of interventions and arrests in these cases was not enough, the committee added. The government should also publish the number of convictions and deportations. They claimed that publishing these numbers would act as a deterrent.
Keith Vaz, Chairman of the Home Affairs committee, said an “industry of deceit” had arisen in the UK which needed to be dealt with.
He said marriage was a “precious institution” which should not be “hijacked to make a mockery of the law”.
Vaz added that it was “absurd” that marriages where the two parties did not attend the ceremony were recognised as legitimate. These ‘proxy marriages’ make it much easier for someone to gain entry to the UK, he said.
The government would “never get a firm grip on a situation which is spiralling out of control” if changes were not made.