A bogus European bride was jailed yesterday after she admitted taking £400 to marry a Pakistani stranger in an EEA marriage scam.
Hungarian-born Elizabeth Balogh, 33, was all set for a white wedding when immigration officials swooped to arrest her and the groom.
Balogh was paid £400 to marry Asif Hussain, 25, so he could stay in Britain after his visa ran out.
But when the pair came in to make the arrangements the registrar spotted it was a fake as the bride barely spoke English and tipped-off the authorities.
Love at first sight
Prosecutor Hywel Hughes said: “There was very little verbal communication between the bride and groom.
“It struck the registrar as very odd that they wanted to get married as quickly as possible and the wedding was booked for three weeks later.”
The court heard Border Agency officers and police lay in wait at the sham ceremony at Cardiff register office. Balogh, who was led away in handcuffs but still insisted: “It was love at first sight.”
The pair finally admitted the marriage was set up by Balogh’s cousin Valerie Farkas, who acted as interpreter because of Balogh’s poor English.
Mr Hughes said: “These three set out and entered into a sham marriage.”
All three admitted conspiracy to breach immigration law. Pakistani-born Hussain, of Cardiff, was jailed for a year, Balogh was given a 10-month sentence and Farkas was sent to prison for six months. Both women lived in Manchester
Judge Neil Bidder QC told them at Cardiff crown court: “Not one of you realised how transparent a sham this was. You all told a pack of lies and Balogh saying it was love at first sight was an outrageous lie.”
Chris Lovejoy, from the UK Border Agency’s immigration crime team, said: “Asif Hussain saw this sham marriage as a short cut to a life in the UK.
“Instead, he has earned himself a significant spell behind bars.” Source: Daily Mirror.
The UK continues to be a magnet for migrant workers and international students, especially from former eastern bloc EU countries, such as Poland, Latvia, Slovakia and more recently Bulgaria and Romania.
As many as 40,000 foreign wives, husbands and partners were granted visas to join their family in the UK in 2010.
Last week the government announced a crackdown on non-EU marriage visas for with proposed new minimum salary rules, which could see thousands of foreign partners being blocked from coming to the UK.
The new minimum salary proposals would mean that two thirds of foreign wives could be banned from the UK under plans to stop immigrants becoming ‘a burden on the state’.
Government immigration advisers say that the minimum salary required to bring a spouse to Britain should go up significantly, and may even be doubled.
The proposals could mean more than half of the UK’s population would not be able to bring in a foreign partner, as they might not earn enough to support them without relying on benefits.
However, these measures would do little to stop anyone marrying or settling with an European citizen, as their applications will be made under EEA rules.
Sham marriage fixers are fully aware of these rules which is why non-EU immigrants are set up with EU partners.
Lawal, who is serving a five-year jail sentence after admitting conspiracy to facilitate illegal immigrants into the country, was arrested after attempting to jump over the garden fence with a suitcase containing ‘packs’ of Home Office EEA application forms, false utility bills and accompanying documents, all believed to be false applications to the Home Office.
Although this is no laughing matter, you have to admit that there is something very comical about the picture of a man trying to hurdle a garden fence with a suitcase full of bent applications with the UKBA in hot pursuit.
One wonders if the arresting officer said: “You’re for the high jump mate”!
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