Govt workers do workshop on how to spot marriages of convenience Loop Cayman Islands

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Cayman Compass

The government said that Workforce Opportunities & Residency Cayman (WORC) recently hosted a workshop educating 43 marriage officers on identifying marriages & civil partnerships of convenience.

According to the government, there are various possible reasons why individuals may enter into a marriage or civil partnership of convenience to gain an immigration related benefit, but it is most frequently done to be able to remain in the Cayman Islands and/or to legally obtain employment.

Common scenarios include:

individuals reaching their term limit for remaining in the Islandshaving a work permit refusedhaving a final extension to remain issued by Customs & Border Control (CBC)loss of immigration-related appealsdenial of permanent residency or Caymanian status, among other reasons

The government noted that suspicious marriages and civil partnerships usually take place shortly before or after the various possible means of remaining in the Cayman Islands have been exhausted.

Some people have also been found to attempt marriages or civil partnerships of convenience during situations of pending bail, court proceedings or character complaints.

In some cases, the Caymanian spouses willingly participate in such sham marriages due to the promise of financial benefit.

However, many of these marriages or civil partnerships of convenience result in divorce as it may become tedious to obtain the RERC certificate (which is the facility that allows a person to work when married to a Caymanian spouse). After divorce, some individuals have been known to re-marry another Caymanian in hopes of a better outcome.

Commenting on the importance of the workshops, Deputy Premier and Minister for Border Control & Labour Hon. Chris Saunders said:

I am very pleased to see these kinds of workshops being conducted. It is important that marriage officers be educated on how to identify the fraudulent practice of entering into a marriage or civil partnership of convenience, in order that they do not become unwittingly implicated. In my view, it is disappointing that so many people seek to circumvent our immigration regulations by entering into a sham marriage. It is making a mockery of the institution of marriage, which should not be entered into lightly as it has formed the traditional foundation of family life in our society.

He continued: “I understand that desperate people will take these kinds of steps, but Caymanians need to recognize the value of their birthright and not give it away by entering into such false marriage arrangements. It may not seem like a big deal in the moment, but it is an illegal and immoral practice with potentially far reaching and long lasting effects, including potential criminal prosecution.”

During the workshop a red flag checklist was provided for officers to consider before marrying or entering foreign nationals in civil partnerships to Caymanians. Since the roll out of this checklist and the workshop, marriage officers have refused marriage applications.

WORC’s Acting Deputy Director of Compliance, Mervin Manderson also commented on the outcomes of the workshop saying:

Thank you to my hardworking and dedicated team and to Compliance Manager Lewis who led the workshop and was instrumental in creating the red flag checklist. I am glad to see the very early positive results it has already produced. Marriage and civil partnership officers should realise the important part they play in risk managing potential sham marriages. WORC will continue to work with marriage and partnership officers to share intelligence and information to strengthen our abilities to make such unethical, and illegal behaviors difficult to achieve.

Since the beginning of 2022, WORC Compliance and Enforcement unit has investigated 175 marriage reports received of which 114 cases resulted in adverse findings. Twenty five cases remain pending investigations, 20 RERC certificates were refused, 12 forfeited and 5 mindful to revoke.

Statistics provided by the Judicial Administration show that since 2016 marriage and divorce rates in the Cayman Islands have increased. In 2016 there were 150 divorces and 493 marriages, while in 2021 there were 266 divorces and 655 marriages (excluding tourists’ marriages).

Mr Manderson went on to say “WORC’s Compliance and Enforcement unit stands prepared and will continue to investigate any information received about such sham marriages or civil partnerships”.

WORC Compliance and Enforcement unit investigates all received reports of potential marriages or civil partnerships of convenience. Individuals or marriage officers who suspect a marriage or civil partnership of convenience has either occurred or will occur can make an anonymous complaint to WORC online at www.worc.ky by clicking on the “Complaints” tab or via email to [email protected]

More about the law on marriages of convenience

According to a government press release, the Immigration (Transition) Act 2021 defines a marriage or civil partnership of convenience as one that is entered into with the primary intention of avoiding, or benefiting from, any of the provisions of the Marriage Act.

Under Section 70(1) of the Immigration (Transition) Act a person who enters into a marriage of convenience or a civil partnership of convenience commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of ten (10) thousand dollars and to imprisonment for one year if:-

(a) a marriage officer has reasonable grounds for suspecting that a marriage will be a marriage of convenience: or

(b) the Registrar, a Civil Registrar or civil partnership officer has reasonable grounds for suspecting that a civil partnership will be a civil partnership of convenience.

The government said that the issue is an especially important one for marriage officers as the Act also states that if a marriage officer fails to report his or her suspicion to the Director of WORC without delay and in such form and manner as may be prescribed, the marriage officer, the Registrar, the Civil Registrar or the civil partnership officer commits an offence.

(Source: CIG)

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