‘Marriages of Convenience’ An article by Anne Heller
Whilst it would be naïve to suggest that ‘marriages of convenience’ do not occur, the Home Office seem to me to be using their powers to stop such marriages taking place and/or refusing EEA residence cards on this basis to an excessive degree.
Refusals tend to be predicated upon a couple being separately interviewed and their answers used to demonstrate that the marriage cannot be genuine. In many cases the Home Office will fail to provide transcripts until the eleventh hour, sometimes literally at the door of the court. It goes without saying that representatives should request transcripts as soon as possible, preferably immediately after the interview has taken place.
Quite apart from the fact that any initial appeal grounds will have to be drafted relying upon the client’s recollection of questions asked and answers given, once the transcript is to hand it is frequently clear that the Home Office have either ‘cherry picked’ the answers and/or conveniently forgotten that the majority of answers given by the couple match. It is, sadly, not unknown for immigration officers to intimidate interviewees. If a client alleges this, the sooner a complaint is put in, the better.
One of my clients was, apparently, not in a genuine marriage because he could not tell the immigration officer the start and end destinations of the buses that ran outside the marital home, despite getting the numbers correct!
This writer frequently makes the “Mr and Mrs” point in her closing submissions. For those not in the know, this game show is premised upon the fact that even couples who have been married for decades do not, for example, know each other’s favourite colour.
The Court of Appeal has recently made some trenchant observations regarding ‘home visits’ by immigration officers in Agho v The Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 1198. The case bears reading; many of the observations ring true for ‘marriage of convenience’ interviews.