I have a family member currently studying in the UK, who is not a British Citizen (Non-EU Citizen). They were going to become a British citizen through more conventional methods, however there has been a surprise in that it seems those conventional methods are no longer available. I am told that those methods have vanished due to tightening immigration laws.

In order to circumvent this, some of my other family members are requesting me to marry this family member. They would marry me, gaining a 1-year visa, and they would stay married to me until they acquired an indefinite visa, after 1 year of marriage, then divorce me.

The marriage would be totally superficial. We would not be living together. The only thing we would share would be a bank account. I do know this family member fairly well and we have holidayed together from time to time.

What I want to know:

  • How legal is this?
  • What do I need to be wary of?
  • How could this ruin my life, if something goes wrong?

Additional details:

  • I am a full British citizen, from birth.
  • Our blood-root family member is a grandparent (Non-EU).
  • It's not legal. If the deception is uncovered, as it probably would be (they have a lot of practice with that), your family member would be removed from the UK and probably banned for at least ten years. Even without a ban, future visa applications would almost certainly be unsuccessful. I don't know what the consequences would be for you, however, which is why I'm not posting an answer.
    – phoog
    Oct 2, 2017 at 16:05
  • I'm quite sure there have been cases of jail time.
    – gnasher729
    Oct 2, 2017 at 18:27

1 Answer 1


A sham marriage or civil partnership is one where the relationship is not genuine but one party hopes to gain an immigration advantage from it. There is no subsisting relationship, dependency, or intent to live as husband and wife or civil partners.

Under sections 24 and 24A of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, as amended by section 55 of the Immigration Act 2014, a sham marriage or civil partnership is one in which:

  • One or both of the parties is not a British citizen or an EEA or Swiss national

  • There is no genuine relationship between the parties

  • Either or both of the parties enter into the marriage or civil partnership for the purposeof circumventing (avoiding) UK immigration Controls, including under the Immigration Rules or the Immigration (EEA) Regulations 2006

Entering into a sham marriage does not entitle migrants any right to remain or reside in the UK.

Sham marriages typically occur when a non-European Economic Area (non-EEA) national marries someone as a means of attempting to gain long term residency and the right to work.

It is a criminal activity under UK immigration law, and if you got caught, you will end up behind the bars, unless you can prove yourself innocent.

For more details about outcomes read this document carefully.


Read it carefully, just try to stay away from troubles.

  • The linked document seems only to discuss penalties for the non-British party to the marriage of convenience. The question is asking about consequences for the British party.
    – phoog
    Oct 2, 2017 at 18:05
  • 1
    @phoog: Prosecution of the "EEA spouse" is discussed on pages 19-21. The document suggests that they can be charged with conspiracy to facilitate, and mentions sentences up to 14 years. Oct 2, 2017 at 22:33
  • @NateEldredge it's a little carelessly written, that, since in many contexts "EEA spouse" excludes British citizen spouses, but after reading the definitions I see that they are clearly included in this context.
    – phoog
    Oct 3, 2017 at 1:19

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