Marriages of convenience

Table of Contents:

Marriages of convenience

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Marriages of convenience


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.


Marriages of convenience

1) Objective

To combat the phenomenon of marriages of convenience between nationals of the Union and third-country nationals already residing in a Member State with a third-country national in order to circumvent the rules on entry and residence of third-country nationals.

2) Union Measures

Council Resolution 97/C 382/01 of 4 December 1997 on measures to be adopted on the combating of marriages of convenience.

3) Contents

1. A “marriage of convenience” means a marriage concluded between a national of a Member State or a third-country national legally resident in a Member State and a third-country national with the sole aim of circumventing the rules on entry and residence of third-country nationals and obtaining for the third-country national a residence permit or authority to reside in a Member State.

Factors which may provide grounds for believing that a marriage is one of convenience are in particular:

  • the fact that matrimonial cohabitation is not maintained,
  • the lack of an appropriate contribution to the responsibilities arising from the marriage,
  • the spouses have never met before their marriage,
  • the spouses are inconsistent about their respective personals details (name, address, nationality and job), about the circumstances of their first meeting, or about other important personal information concerning them,
  • the spouses do not speak a language understood by both,
  • a sum of money has been handed over in order for the marriage to be contracted (with the exception of money given in the form of a dowry in the case of nationals of countries where the provision of a dowry is a common practice),
  • the past history of one or both of the spouses contains evidence of previous marriages of convenience or residence anomalies.

3. Where there are factors which support suspicions for believing that a marriage is one of convenience, the Member State will issue a residence permit or an authority to reside to the third-country national on the basis of the marriage only after the authorities competent under national law have checked that the marriage is not one of convenience, and that the other conditions relating to entry and residence have been fulfilled. Such checking may involve a separate interview with each of the two spouses.

4. Should the authorities competent under the laws of the Member State find the marriage to be one of convenience, the residence permit or authority to reside granted on the basis of the third-country national’s marriage will as a general rule be withdrawn, revoked or not renewed.

5. The third-country national will have an opportunity to contest or to have reviewed, as provided by national law, either before a court or a competent administrative authority, a decision to refuse, revoke or not renew a residence permit or authority to reside.

6. The objective of the Resolution is not to introduce systematic checks on all marriages with third-country nationals. Checks will be carried out only where there are well-founded suspicions.

7. The Council will review the implementation of the Resolution once a year, starting from 1 January 1999.

4) Deadline For The Implementation Of The Legislation In The Member States

5) Date Of Entry Into Force (If Different From The Previous Date)

Not required

6) References

Official Journal C 382 of 16.12.1997

7) Follow-Up Work

8) Implementing Measures

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