Home Secretary announces crackdown on bogus marriages

The United Kingdom's Home Secretary, Theresa May, has announced a crackdown on sham marriages. Writing in The Sun newspaper for 28th August 2012, Mrs May says she will legislate to allow the UKBA to delay a wedding involving a non-EU national when its investigators suspect that it may be bogus. The wedding will be delayed to allow time for an investigation and will only be allowed if the UKBA is satisfied that the relationship is genuine.

She said that many 'sham marriage operators' had been caught since her government came to power and cited the case of a vicar who was jailed last year after conducting 300 fraudulent marriage ceremonies.

Her article also laid out other elements of the UK's immigration policy. She said that she intends to bring 'the strength of other bodies to bear by making it much harder for illegal immigrants to get credit – so no overdraft from the bank, no credit card and no mobile phone contract.' She said that the government also intends to 'deny benefits to illegal immigrants.'

Mrs May says that, since coming to power, the Coalition government has cracked down on 'bogus colleges'. She said that over 500 have lost their licences to sponsor applicants for Tier 4 student visas. She said that under Labour, in one year, 304,000 people applied for Tier 4 student visas. She said that many signed up for student visas but had no intention of studying. There was, she says, a 62% drop in student visas granted in the first quarter of 2012.

She said that new rules also meant that fewer spouses who have married UK citizens abroad are now allowed to settle in the UK. They will now have to prove they can speak English and have a minimum income of £18,600 a year so that they will not be a drain on the state.

Mrs May said 'immigration in itself is not a bad thing. We will always provide a safe haven to those who need it most.' She continued, saying 'Our door will be open to those who benefit Britain, the brightest and best' and singled out entrepreneurs, businessmen and sportsmen as being welcome to live in Britain.

She said 'immigration, properly managed, can bring great benefits to our nation' and said that the national pride in Mo Farah's two gold medals at the Olympics showed this to be true. However, she said that, under Labour, the UK had taken far too many immigrants. She said the country was crowded and immigration put pressure on the National Health Service, on transport, welfare and on education.

She reiterated the government's intention to reduce annual net migration 'from hundreds of thousands to a much more sustainable tens of thousands'.

The opposition Labour Party's Shadow Immigration Minister, Chris Bryant MP, welcomed the proposed change to the marriage law but attacked Mrs May, criticising 'her woeful mismanagement of the border agency. Mr Bryant issued a statement which said 'Theresa May must get serious about abscondees, foreign prisoners and lost and hidden illegal migrants.'

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