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Government cracking down on marriages of convenience

Front Pages 17 Jun, 2024 Follow News

Government cracking down on marriages of convenience

Cabinet has approved the drafting of new immigration regulations which will stop sham marriages in Cayman that are not true unions and are simply a ruse to get round immigration laws.

In what it calls “a decisive move” to strengthen the integrity of marital/civil partnerships unions and uphold the sanctity of the institution of marriage/civil partnerships, Cabinet has approved the drafting of new immigration regulations, specifically the Immigration (Arrangements of Convenience) Regulations 2024. These regulations are aimed at addressing key issues related to marriages/civil partnerships of convenience. This landmark decision underscores the government’s commitment to ensuring that marriages/civil partnerships are entered into sincerely and not exploited for ulterior motives, a release said.

Marriages/civil partnerships arrangements of convenience, often referred to as “sham marriages”, are marriages/civil partnerships entered into for the primary purpose of circumventing immigration laws or obtaining other benefits. Currently, the Marriage Act (2010 Revision) and Civil Partnership Act (2020) lack explicit provisions addressing arrangements of convenience.

New laws intend to require the need for enhanced scrutiny of intended unions which will empower officials to scrutinise intended marriages/civil partnerships more rigorously. This will be achieved by mandating the collection of additional information from persons intending to marry, ensuring that all unions are entered into with genuine intent.

The legislation will establish a clear legal framework for officials to report any suspicions that may arise during their interactions with intended couples. This aims to ensure that any potential concerns are documented and addressed in a timely manner.

To ensure consistency and reliability, the legislation proposes the implementation of a standardised reporting system for all suspicions related to marriages/civil partnerships of convenience. This will facilitate uniformity across all reports and enhance the effectiveness of the response, government said.

The proposed changes aim to address potential gaps in the current legislation regarding the prescribed form and manner for reporting suspicions. By defining clear guidelines, the new Regulations will provide officials with the necessary tools to act appropriately.

Enhancing the ability of WORC to swiftly respond to reports of suspicion is a key focus of the proposed legislation. The streamlined process will enable more efficient handling of cases, ensuring that genuine marriages are protected while preventing abuse.

Dwayne Seymour, Minister of Border Control, Labour & Culture said by introducing these measures, they aimed to ensure that marriages/civil partnerships were based on genuine relationships and not exploited for convenience.

“We are committed to maintaining the integrity of our marital system and protecting the rights and responsibilities that come with it,” he said.

The Cabinet’s approval marks the beginning of the legislative drafting process, which will involve thorough consultation with relevant stakeholders and the public. These new Regulations will ultimately serve to enhance WORC’s prosecution capabilities against officials who fail to report suspicions, which is presently challenging due to the absence of prescribed reporting procedures.

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