The number of marriages rejected in Belgium on suspicion of being ‘marriages of convenience’ was much lower in 2018 than in the two previous years, Justice Minister Koen Geens said on Wednesday.
Responding to a written question from a Vlaams Belang parliamentarian, Geens said the number of marriages rejected in 2018 was 237, as against 364 in 2017 and 278 in 2016.
A marriage of convenience is one contracted for personal gain or some other sort of strategic purpose, including the right to reside in a country.
If registry officials have serious suspicions that marriages are being contracted for the sake of convenience, they may postpone them by up to two months pending an additional investigation.
The matter may also be referred to the Office of the Public Prosecutor (OPP), which can delay it for a further three months, at most.
There were 369 postponements in 2016, 420 in 2017 and 408 in 2018.
Should the OPP issue a negative opinion or if there are sufficient indications that the marriage is one of convenience, the official can refuse to perform it.
Many applications for the recognition of cohabitation partnerships have also been rejected in recent years for the same reason. Civil registry officials threw out 401 such applications in 2018, 406 in 2017 and 316 in 2016.