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UK Government abolish certificate of approval for marriage or civil partnership | Immigration Matters

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The UK government announced its intention to abolish the ‘certificate of approval’ scheme last month. A Remedial Order under the Human Rights Act 1998 has been laid in Parliament to achieve this aim.

The UK Border Agency issued the following announcement:

At present, any migrant who is already in the UK and is subject to immigration control must apply for a certificate of approval before they can get married or register a civil partnership in this country (unless they are getting married within the Anglican Church).

The government is now seeking to remedy the declaration by the UK courts that the scheme is incompatible with Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights (read with Article 12). Additionally, changes made following rulings from the courts have weakened the scheme, and it is no longer an effective method of preventing sham marriage.

Do I still need to apply for a certificate of approval if I want to get married or register a civil partnership?

Yes, if you are subject to immigration control. The certificate of approval scheme remains in operation until the Remedial Order comes into force. Applicants will need to follow the current process until further notice.

When will the scheme be abolished?

We expect the scheme to end in late 2010 or early 2011, subject to Parliamentary scrutiny.

We do not know how long it will take for the process of parliamentary scrutiny to be completed. When we know the exact date for the abolition of the scheme, we will announce it on this website.

Can I still apply for a repayment of my certificate of approval fee?

Yes. Since 31 July 2009, migrants who applied for a certificate of approval between 2005 and 2009 have been able to apply for their fee to be repaid. They must show that paying the fee caused them real financial hardship at the time of payment.

The formal repayment scheme comes to an end on 31 July 2010. This date has been advertised since the start of the repayment scheme. All requests for repayment received by 31 July 2010 will be processed under the terms of the scheme.

After 31 July 2010, any enquiries about the repayment of the fee should be addressed to:

UK Border Agency,
COA Repayment Scheme,
Lunar House (9th floor),
40 Wellesley Road,

When the scheme is abolished, will I still need to give notice of my marriage or civil partnership in a designated register office?

Yes. The requirement to give notice in a designated register office is not affected by the proposed abolition of the certificate of approval scheme. The requirement will remain in force when the scheme is abolished. Source: UK Border Agency.

There have been a number of recent a high profile fake marriage cases including a sham wedding conviction of a Church of England Vicar in Sussex.

The Rev Alex Brown, 61, was found guilty of carrying out 360 sham weddings over four years. Brown was thought to have carried out the weddings for cash and around £5,000 was found in his rectory.

Last week two more priests were arrested on suspicion of running a sham marriage conspiracy to help illegal immigrants stay in Britain.

See also:

Two arrested in ’sham’ wedding probe

Church of England Vicar found guilty in fake wedding marriage scam case

More vicars arrested over alleged ‘fake marriages’ scam

UK is ‘no longer a soft touch’ for illegal immigrants Minister warns

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14 Responses to “UK Government abolish certificate of approval for marriage or civil partnership”
Read them below or add one

  1. I’m not allowed to work and no any hopes being tired from life just even some times even life give pressure to kill me self o

  2. un name secret says :

    Hi dears brother n sister I’m failed asylum seeker I married religious with European girl in UK I sent all document to the home office but unfortunately they sent back document and ask us go to town hall so if I go to town hall they will arrest me baz my soliciter and my friend saying might they will arrest and deport me to Afghanistan my life is danger in Afghanistan so plz give me advise we love each other honestly and need ur help I’m not even allowed u

  3. Hi..
    does my previous Certificate of approval ( only certificate of approval, but no marriage happend) affect my new UK spouse visa application? Thanks in advance.

  4. i think with this new law everyone can easy get married in england no more disscrimination:) am illegal aswell and i am gonna married with an english lady so they cant stop me because i love her and she loves me.

  5. hi I am given a one year visa as a domestic worker here in UK, during my stay i meet a man in a shopping centre we goin out for 9 months now and we decide to apply a COA this month??? Is it possible that we can get a Yes from a home office or he need to marry me in my country.

  6. you should contact the home office

  7. iam married now with one kurdish girl she got reman leav uk (indefinet)but i dont have any payper i got refuse from 2007 so far,so we got one baby now,but we dont know how can we apply for married…
    thank you

  8. peete Peet says :

    Sister its to late now…..

  9. mrs saira says :

    is it possible for hsmp dependent wife to switch her visa in uk to student visa tier 4, without going back to whome country. please let me know for better life.

  10. DR RAYAT says :

    good news about COA. human rights are very important.

  11. My uncle has a relationship with a British woman for the period of three years and they have a daughter of 19 months. But he is a illegal in this country. what can he do, because at the moment his relationship is not stable with her and He desires to stay in this country for his daughter.

  12. phillip dean says :

    You can track his address from his mobile number. Google up track mobile phone. However, i you should forget him since he doesn’t want to keep in touch these 3 years. He doesn’t deserve you! Let him go and move on with your life.


  13. Noelia O'shea says :

    I need some advice of what to do.I am a white british woman and have been married to a nigerian man for 3 years and i know he only married me for hes visa.I dont live with him now and throughout the 3 years have hardly lived with him at all.I dont know where he lives i dont know where he works,all i have is hes mobile number and that is it.I have found out that he was cheating on me for the whole 3 years and even when we got married.please can ypu help or give me some advice.I dont want him to gain a british passport from me.

  14. i am an illegal immigrant in this country for almost eight years can i apply for a certificate to married to british citizen

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