The UK Border Agency (UKBA) have been quick off the mark in 2013, wasting no time recovering from the New Year festivities and arresting a Nigerian visa overstayer minutes before he was due to take part in a suspected sham marriage at Kendal register office on 2 January.
Officers, acting on information that the relationship “may not be genuine”, raided the county offices in Kendal in the Lake District at 11:00 on Wednesday 2 January 2013.
The agency said that the operation was carried out with the “full co-operation of the superintendent registrar” who are obliged to pass on information on suspected sham marriages or bogus weddings.
Moments before the ceremony began, officers “intervened” and the 34-year-old man was arrested for overstaying his visa and remaining in the UK illegally.
He had been due to marry a 24-year-old British woman, was questioned by officers before being released. The Nigerian man has been detained pending his removal from the UK.
Alison Wray, head of enforcement in the North West, UK Border Agency said:
‘We’re working closely with registrars to clamp down on sham weddings and civil partnerships.
‘Where there are suspicions that a relationship may not be genuine we will investigate and, if necessary, intervene to stop it happening.’
A sham marriage or civil partnership typically occurs when a non-European national marries someone from the European Economic Area (EEA) or the UK as a means of attempting to gain long-term residency and the right to work and claim benefits in the UK.
Those involved with arranging sham marriages will normally face criminal charges and a term in prison, as one East London Vicar found out to his cost.
Last November, UKBA officers arrested 17 people as part of a nationwide operation targeting suspected bogus weddings between non-EU migrants and EU citizens designed to gain Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK.
Anyone with information about immigration offenders can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or go to the UKBA website.
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