Up to one in four of the 9,000 marriages between foreigners and Polish citizens every year could be bogus.
In America and the UK it is common to see dubious adverts from foreigners looking for that special someone – in reality they are looking for citizenship, not love. But Poland has become a target for people from outside the EU looking to migrate from poorer regions of the world but denied entry because of strict immigration controls.
“Registrars in Poland are helpless. They can’t refuse to marry anyone, even if they suspect a fraud,” explains Małgorzata Pyziak-Szafnicka from the University in Lodz, quoted in Rzeczpospolita.
For a bogus marriage, a Pole can demand between 15,000 and 20,000 zlotys (3,350-4,500 euros). Most foreigners who are ready to pay for such ‘services’ come from Asian countries and the former USSR region.
Rzeczpospolita gives the example of Olga M, a 27 year old Ukrainian who married 72 year old Aleksander J.. A divorce pertition was made after only two months, pointing to the failure to sexually consummate the marriage. Aleleksander, however, died before the divorce could come through.
The price Poles can demand has risen in recent years as Poland is an attractive country for these sorts of marriages, particularly since the country joined the Schengen Zone, which means free movement for non-EU born citizens.
The arrangement, however, can backfire, especially when the ‘spouse’ takes off out of the country without first getting a divorce.