Preventing sham marriages

The government is taking action to prevent sham marriages, for example by investigating potential sham marriages more closely. A sham marriage is a marriage contracted solely to obtain a residence permit for a foreign national. Sham marriages (or sham relationships) enable people who are not eligible for a residence permit to reside in the Netherlands.

Undesirable consequences of sham marriages

Facilitating or entering into a sham marriage is a criminal offence. Sham marriages are often associated with:

  • Criminal activity

    For instance, people smuggling and human trafficking. Sham marriages create victims. In some cases, people make a lot of money from sham marriages. For example, a Dutch national may receive money for entering into such a marriage. And a criminal network might be involved in the arrangement.
  • Unnecessary cost to Dutch society

    People who have obtained the right to reside in the Netherlands as a result of a sham marriage are exploiting social services and wrongfully gaining access to the labour market.

Investigating potential sham marriages more closely

The government plans to investigate potential sham marriages and relationships more closely. If a sham marriage is suspected, the partners will be interviewed separately about their marriage or relationship. If there are too many discrepancies between their answers, the applicant will not be granted the right to reside in the Netherlands.

 These investigations require organisations like the IND, the police, the Public Prosecution Service (OM), the Royal Military and Border Police (KMar), the Repatriation and Departure Service (DT&V), the Social Affairs and Employment Inspectorate and municipalities to work together closely.

Entering into or facilitating a sham marriage is a criminal offence in the Netherlands

People who are involved in a sham marriage or sham relationship are breaking Dutch law.

Providing false information about a relationship may result in:

  • a fine, an alternative sanction and/or a prison sentence (for the resident partner);
  • denial of the right of residence based on marriage to a resident (for the migrant);
  • revocation of the migrant's residence permit.