The draft handbook from the European Commission defines the term as “marriage contracted for the sole purpose of enjoying the right of free movement and residence under EU law on free movement of EU citizens that one spouse would not have otherwise.”
The handbook contains a list of would-be warning signs, including a potentially precarious financial situation for the EU citizen who is entering into marriage, whether or not the wedding attracts many friends and family, and if the two parties come from very different cultural backgrounds.
The draft was quick to underline that EU member states should not probe all marriages that entail residency rights
“It must be highlighted that a marriage cannot be considered as a marriage of convenience simply because it brings an immigration advantage,” the draft authors wrote.
“Or indeed any other advantage (for example the right to a particular surname, location-related allowances, tax advantages or entitlement to social housing for married couples).”
The report urges EU member states to introduce and enforce tough legislation to deal with sham marriages.
The manual is solely a draft, the EU Commission underscored when sending it to public servants in Sweden and other member states.