London -The Church of England said, Wednesday, that it would soon launch a crackdown on sham marriages within its fold across the UK.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that already, Vicars in the churches have been directed to tighten scrutiny of applications involving couples from outside most European countries.
According to the Church statement in London, “clergy must also report any concerns they have that a marriage is not genuine’’.
It stated that instead of the traditional reading of the banns ahead of a wedding, would-be couples have to apply for a common licence where they have to swear to affidavits, give proof of identity and attend marriage preparation classes.
It also said that the new guideline comes after one of the vicars was jailed in September 2010 for overseeing the marriage of 360 illegal immigrants to strangers.
NAN recalls that in January, the British government arrested 10 foreign nationals involved in sham marriages and immigration fraud.
In his reaction, the Regional Director for the UK Border Agency in Africa, Simon Peachey assured genuine visitors including Nigerians that they would continue to be welcome.
“But we will be tough on those who breach their visa conditions and will seek to remove them from the UK, he said.`
“We take abuse of the system very seriously. A marriage certificate alone does not give foreign nationals the right to live and work in the UK,’’ Peachey said.
He warned that those attempting to break the UK’s immigration rules by obtaining passport fraudulently would face prison sentences, deportation and potential ban from re-entering the UK.