Up to 15% of civil ceremonies held here in Ireland may be bogus, according to the HSE's superintendent registrar.
It has been reported in today's Irish Times that registrars have seen a rapid increase in the number of sham marriages.
The HSE eastern area is the largest in the country performing around 2,500 of the 6,000 plus civil ceremonies last year.
However, an increase in bogus marriages has been noted across the country as non-EU nationals, typically from Pakistan and India, seek residency after marrying an EU citizen.
Under an EU directive, non-EU spouses and family members of EU citizens have the right to travel freely within the union, despite the Irish Government's attempt to limit this right.
Figures show the number applying for residency rights based on marriage to an EU citizen has jumped more than 1,000 in just three years.
Registrars say in typical sham marriage cases the bride and groom do not understand each other, they do not know each others addresses and the bride has no friends at the ceremony.
The Department of Social Protection is now drafting new guidelines for registrars to crack down on such practices.
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