The Directorate of Immigration has gone to extraordinary lengths to investigate the “sincerity” of a marriage of a Vietnamese couple. Their lawyer contends the Directorate has overstepped their authority.
Vísir reports that the couple first met when the woman, 22, visited Iceland in 2013, as she has family in the country. The man, who has a permanent residence permit, has lived in Iceland since childhood. Later that same year, she became pregnant and they got married. Their daughter was born in September 2014.
What would normally be an open-and-shut case of granting the young wife and mother residency became a police matter, when UTL sent a copy of the couple’s wedding video to police in December 2014 and contended that they believed the marriage was a sham. This was based on their opinion that the bride did not look happy in the video. It has not been disclosed how UTL got their hands on the video in question.
Two months later, in February of this year, UTL asked the couple to come in for an interview to discuss their situation. Five months after that, the couple received a letter telling them UTL believed their marriage to be a lie. They also accused the couple of giving UTL false information, which the Directorate emphasised could result in jail time for them.
The couple have naturally denied all of these accusations. They say that the reason why the woman did not look especially happy in the video was because, while emotionally happy to be getting married, she was still newly pregnant and experiencing the hormonally-induced sickness that comes with it. Further, the “false information” was due to a cultural misunderstanding: in Vietnam, the groom typically pays for the wedding, and it is considered unseemly for the bride to ask or know how much was paid. This, the couple says, is why the woman could not provide detailed information on how the wedding was financed.
More bizarrely, UTL stated in their letter to police that “information has come from the National Hospital that the woman was very young and childlike”. When reporters contacted the hospital about the matter, however, they said that they had no knowledge of this particular case.
“The Directorate of Immigration does not have the same investigative authority as the police,” Björg Valgeirsdóttir, the lawyer for the couple, told reporters, adding that the hospital does not have the right to discuss confidential patient matters with a third party.
“To contend that their marriage is staged is nothing but a pretext, and prevents my client from enjoying her and her family’s rights in this country,” she said.
Kristín Völundardóttir, the Director of UTL, could not be reached for comment.