12 May 2014 14:58

The Cyprus Institute of Demographics and Immigration Policies are set to hand over a set of proposals and suggestions to the government in a bid to curb the problem of sham marriages.
The non-governmental organisation is currently in the process of finalising its results from the study with preliminary findings reportedly showing that the problem of marriages of conveniences have escalated in the last three years.
Cyprus is seen as an attractive destination of couples wanting to get married or by partners –living in a country where matrimonies of different religious partners are prohibited – can tie the knot.
If partners can present all the necessary documentation, then a wedding could take place as early as three days since first arriving on the island.
Fraudsters are constantly taking advantage of the lenient marriage requirements and arranging marriages for those wanting EU passports or to stay in Cyprus in exchange for cash.
In many cases, EU nationals are flown in from Cyprus to marry a non-EU citizen before then flying back to his or her country once it is over.
“The Interior Ministry is obliged to look deeper into this problem and to take measures immediately,” read an announcement by the institute on Sunday.
“The municipalities must also step up to the problem as they are in dire need of the financial rewards to be gained from conducting marriage ceremonies in Cyprus.”
Several municipalities have been investigated in the past on suspicion of facilitating or turning a blind eye to marriages of convenience.
The law stipulates that before a wedding ceremony both spouses must present a valid passport, a pink slip if required and proof of termination of any previous marriages, while a witness must also be present.
Most cases of marriages of convenience in Cyprus involve asylum seekers and visiting citizens from other EU countries who come to the island to get married for a fee and often leave immediately.
Earlier this year, police busted a sham marriages ring in the capital involving a Pakistani national and two lawyers. Investigators had also uncovered fake documents needed for the marriages to take place.
The institute said no measures have been enforced despite government and municipality officials being fully aware of the extent of the problem and that “those illegally gaining residency permits to live on the island through such means can have an adverse effect on the demographical and financial aspects of Cyprus”.


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