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Everything you want to know about abolition of COA scheme

The scheme to minimise sham marriages to be scrapped

4th April 2011:
The certificate of approval scheme, initially put into use to help minimise the occurrences of sham marriages, is to be scrapped.
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But migrants, subject to immigration control, must follow the current application process until further notice.

For the UK Border Agency says the certificate of approval scheme remains in operation until the Remedial Order comes into force.

The scheme is expected to come to an end on 9 May 2011, subject to Parliamentary approval.

If parliament approves the Remedial Order, the government proposes to end the scheme on 9 May. There will be no legal requirement to obtain a certificate of approval after that date. After that, if you want to marry in summer 2011, you will not need a certificate of approval

The government will continue to process applications until the scheme legally ends. But will start returning applications and documents as soon as the scheme legally ends.

In some cases, the government may want to retain documents to undertake enforcement activity. For example, in cases where it is found the applicants have no valid permission to enter or remain in the UK. If the documents are retained, the applicants will be notified  by letter.

You can withdraw your application at any time, but the scheme remains in force until it is abolished.

To request the return of documents before 9 May, you can send a fax to the COA team on 020 8196 3831 or write to: Ms M Wilkes, 9th Floor, Lunar House, 40 Wellesley Road, Croydon CR9 2BY.

Requests must be clearly headed ‘COA withdrawal’.

Even when the scheme is abolished, you will still need to give notice of your marriage or civil partnership in a designated register office.

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.

The government, on 29 March 2011, announced the ‘certificate of approval’ scheme will end on 9 May 2011, subject to approval by Parliament.

Currently, any migrant already in the UK and subject to immigration control must apply for a certificate of approval before getting married or register a civil partnership in this country, unless they are getting married within the Anglican Church.

The UK Border Agency said: `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).
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`Additionally, changes made following rulings from the courts have weakened the scheme, and it is no longer an effective method of preventing sham marriage.

`The Parliamentary process for abolishing the scheme using a Remedial Order under the Human Rights Act 1998 is drawing to a close. The Order must be approved by both Houses of Parliament.

`The House of Commons approved the order on 29 March. During this debate, the Minister for Immigration announced the proposed abolition date. We will proceed to abolish the scheme on 9 May if the House of Lords approves the Order following a debate on 4 April’.

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