The Border Force has made it clear that foreign nationals tying knot in the UK are still required to apply to it, providing evidence to support a genuine relationship. Failure to do so will entail prosecution or deportation, it has warned.
The UK Border Agency said: `A marriage certificate alone does not give foreign nationals the right to live and work in the UK. Their relationship has to be genuine and they are still required to apply to us providing evidence to support this. If it is not, they face prosecution or deportation’.
The assertion came after seven people were handed jail terms for trying to cheat immigration rules by staging two sham marriages in Wrexham.
The officers from UKBA’s criminal and financial investigation team arrested two Indians and their Lithuanian 'brides' at Wrexham Register Office on 30 August 2011, before the ceremonies could take place.
They also arrested two more Lithuanian men and a UK national, who were also in the wedding party.
The Border Force said all seven admitted a charge of conspiracy to facilitate a breach of UK immigration laws and were sentenced at Chester Crown Court on 31 January.
Andrej Stepanov, 28, Lithuanian national, got 1 year 4 months, Manpreet Singh, 27, got 1 year, Jasbir Singh, 21, Indian, got 11 months, Sandra Beleckaite, 21, Lithuanian national, got 304 days, Oskana Alexsandraviciute, 37, Lithuanian national also got 304 days.
Antannas Beleckas, 27, Lithuanian national, got 1 year, 3 months, and Jaspal Singh Sahota, 51, UK national got 2 years, 2 months.
Going into the background, the UKBA said: Our investigators went to Wrexham Register Office on 30 August last year where the weddings of Manpreet Singh and Alexsandraviciute and Jasbir Singh and Beleckaite were due to take place.
`As the couples arrived at 13:25, together with Beleckas, Sahota and Stepanov they were arrested by our officers.
`Manpreet Singh and Sahota were both carrying boxes containing male and female rings, while Stepanov was acting as a photographer.
`Under questioning at Wrexham police station, the two couples initially claimed their relationships were genuine despite not knowing many personal details about each other or speaking a common language.
`All seven were charged with conspiracy to facilitate a breach of UK immigration laws and pleaded guilty at different hearings before today's sentencing’.
A sham marriage typically occurs when a non-European national marries someone from the European Economic Area, or the UK, as a means of attempting to gain long-term residency and the right to work and claim benefits in this country.
`In this case, Manpreet Singh's visa was due to expire in September 2011, shortly after the planned wedding. Fellow groom Jasbir Singh was in the UK illegally after his visa expired earlier in August 2011. We will take steps to remove them from the UK at the end of their jail terms,’ the UKBA added.
Dave Offside, criminal and financial investigation team, UK Border Agency said after the sentencing: 'The two grooms in this case saw sham marriage as a potential shortcut to a life in the UK, but they have ended up behind bars.
'The brides were prepared to marry people they barely know in exchange for cash and the others involved also stood to gain financially.
'The UK Border Agency is cracking down on sham marriages and those who seek to cheat immigration laws face jail.'