New measures have come into effect to prevent so-called "marriages of convenience" taking place in Ireland.

Under the legislation, Marriage Registrars will have powers to prevent sham marriages for immigration purposes.

Marriages of convenience or sham marriages are defined as marriage where at least one of the parties is a foreign national and wants to get married solely for the purpose of securing residency rights.

It is believed hundreds of such marriages take place in Ireland every year.

Under the new laws, registrars now have the right to investigate an application made by a couple to marry and can ultimately refuse to issue a marriage registration form.

In doing so the registrar will consider, among other things, if the couple speak a common language, whether they live together, and if money was paid as an inducement. 

The Migrant Rights Centre said there is a concern the new rules will lead to ethnic profiling.

However, in a statement Tánaiste Joan Burton said they are intended to clamp down on those who are abusing rules and using marriage to gain an automatic right of residency.