The Guidance to Supporting Documents lists a number of documents that you may submit to prove that you are the spouse of an EEA national. This includes a marriage certificate, phone records, emails, letters, and photographs. However, the submission of these documents may not necessarily satisfy the ECO that you are the spouse of an EEA national.
Marriage of Convenience
Under the Guidance, the ECO must be satisfied that there are no grounds to consider that the marriage is one of convenience. Again the EEA Regulations define a ‘spouse’ to exclude a party to marriage of convenience. A marriage is one of convenience if it is entered in solely for an immigration benefit and the parties have no intention to live together permanently in the UK.
How can you prove that your marriage is not one of convenience?
The Guidance lists a number of factors in assessing whether a marriage is one of convenience:
(i) Adverse immigration history
The officer is more likely to find that your marriage is one of convenience if you have an adverse immigration history. Factors in assessing immigration history include repetitive applications, marriage entered soon after other visa refusals either in the UK or other country, entering into a marriage soon after a deportation, removal, or refusal of entry to the UK, etc.
(ii) Doubts on the validity of the documentation provided in support of the marriage.
If the ECO has doubts on the validity of the documentation provided in support of the marriage, they are more likely to decide that the marriage is one of convenience. If one of the parties has previously been married, you must submit a document or other evidence to prove that the previous marriage has permanently broken down. Usually, a court decree of divorce or a registration of Divorce certificate may be primary evidence of the divorce. The situation becomes trickier in cases of customary divorce where the parties dissolved the marriage customarily and have no official document to prove the divorce.
The UK Immigration Appeals Tribunal case of NA (customary marriage and divorce) evidence  UKAIT 9 however held that as registration of the dissolution of a customary marriage is not mandatory in Ghana, an appellant does not necessarily have to produce a registration of dissolution to prove the divorce. They suggested that evidence in the form of a statutory declaration or an affidavit produced by family members or other people able to confirm the dissolution of the customary tribal marriage should be produced.
In preparing declarations of this sort, the US Department of Justice Board of Immigration Appeals decision in Kodwo (24 I&N Dec 1979) held that affidavits should be specific and include the full names and birthdates of the parties; the date of the customary marriage; the date of, and the grounds for, the dissolution of the marriage; the names, birthdates of, and custody agreement for any children born of the marriage and a description of the tribal formalities that were observed including the names of the tribal leaders, the name of the tribe, the place, the type of divorce, and any other relevant information.
(iii) Application following soon after the marriage.
Though, there may be nothing practically wrong with making an application soon after a marriage, it is always safe to allow for some time before doing so. The Regulations do not say when a party may make an application after their marriage. However, a reasonable time between the date of the marriage and the making of the application such as to lead a reasonable man to conclude that the marriage was not entered into solely for the purposes of the application must be the guide.
(iv) Evidence of previous relationship
Finally, the party to the marriage must be able to provide evidence of previous relationship. This may be in the form of letters, emails, phone records, photographs or some other means of contact that preceded the actual marriage. In the absence of such evidence the ECO may likely hold that the marriage is one of convenience.
Disclaimer: This article only provides general information and guidance on UK immigration law. The specific facts that apply to your matter may make the outcome different than would be anticipated by you. The writer will not accept any liability for any claims or inconvenience as a result of the use of this information. The writer is an immigration law advisor and a practicing law attorney in Ghana. He advises on U.S., UK, and Schengen immigration law. He works part-time for Acheampong & Associates Ltd, an immigration law firm in Accra.
Source: Emmanuel Opoku Acheampongfirstname.lastname@example.org