Chief Immigration Officer Merclyn Hughes

Sham Marriages: A problem that needs addressingChief Immigration Officer

Incidents of fake marriages are something that needs to be addressed, according to Chief Immigration Officer Merclyn Hughes, who said legislation would be necessary to effectively do so.

Hughes said the matter was something that there were no laws to properly police. “Marriages of convenience or sham marriages – some countries have the laws spelt out, and you can do your investigation and take the matter before the court.”

She said, however, that they were looking to amend the Immigration Act to ensure they have the legal footing when they investigate.

“These are one of the things that we are looking at, in terms of the Immigration Act to be reviewed, and for amendments. Those are some of the recommendations that we wish to make so that when these situations occur, we will have teeth, we will have the grounds to stand on to investigate.”

Hughes said that marriages of convenience are marital arrangements entered into without a real marital relationship.

“It is commonly done by persons seeking citizenship of another country.”

She said the new Enforcement Unit of the Immigration Department will help to investigate such incidents as soon as the laws are amended.

Hughes implored every citizen and resident to be watchful, and be the ears and eyes of law enforcement.

“The general public can expect to see immigration officers moving around the island in their newly acquired law enforcement uniforms.”

She said the new unit was activated to manage the large number of persons overstaying, and persons working without the relevant approval.

“We are therefore encouraging persons who fit these profiles to visit the Ministry of National Security and have their status regularized as soon as possible.”

The Immigration head also warned potential employers that it is an offence to employ any non-national without a work permit, which must be applied for while the prospective employee is outside the federation, and the employer fulfilled their local obligations outlined in the Immigration act.