Marriages of convenience

It is always difficult to navigate between the different definitions of “sham marriage” and “marriage of convenience”.

The Upper Tribunal has now returned to this topic in the recent decision of Saeed (Deception – knowledge – marriage of convenience) [2022] UKUT 18 (IAC).

The facts

Mr Saeed, a Pakistani citizen, entered the UK as a student in 2008. He held leave until 2014, when the Home Office made a decision to remove him under section 10 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 because of an allegedly fraudulent English language test certificate. He challenged that decision by way of judicial review.

While the judicial review was pending, in October 2016, Mr Saeed applied for an EEA residence card as the unmarried partner of a Lithuanian national. This application was refused; Mr Saeed exercised his right of appeal. Meanwhile, he married his partner, in August 2017.

The First-Tier Tribunal dismissed his appeal, finding that he was in a marriage of convenience, but that he had not submitted a fraudulent test certificate.

By this point his judicial review was before the Court of Appeal. This was settled in February 2020, with the Home Office accepting the tribunal’s finding that the certificate was not fraudulent. His leave was reinstated.

Mr Saeed then sought indefinite leave to remain on the basis of ten years’ long residence. This was refused. The Home Office said that the finding that he was in a marriage of convenience meant that he had made false representations to obtain leave to remain. Mr Saeed maintained that he was in a genuine relationship and appealed this refusal. The First-tier Tribunal dismissed the appeal.

Marriages of convenience

In the Upper Tribunal, Mr Saeed argued among other things that the judge had failed to distinguish between a sham marriage and a marriage of convenience. Being in a marriage of convenience did not mean that a false representation had been made and did not amount to “sufficiently reprehensible conduct” to justify refusal of his long residence application.

A sham marriage is defined under the Immigration Acts as one in which there is no genuine relationship between the parties to the marriage (or civil partnership), and one or both of the parties enter into the marriage for the purpose of circumventing UK immigration control.

A marriage of convenience is defined as a marriage entered into for the purpose of circumventing immigration laws.

No genuine relationship here

As far as Mr Saeed was concerned, the tribunal held that there was in any event “no evidence” before the original judge “that the parties were in a genuine relationship”. As there was no genuine relationship, the marriage was a sham and there had been deception.

It appears that unfortunately no further evidence was submitted to address these issues.

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