Two people have been jailed following an investigation by UK immigration authorities for crimes relating to UK spouse visas.
A 33-year-old Pakistani man named Shahzad Anwar was arrested in September of last year after the authorities learned he was planning to marry 45-year-old Romanian Wedmore Vale at a ceremony at a Bristol register office.
UK immigration authorities were alerted to the wedding after it was revealed that the pair only spoke limited English and neither could speak the other's language, making it highly unlikely that their relationship and planned wedding were genuine.
It was later confirmed that the ceremony was indeed a sham designed to obtain a spouse visa for Anwar. The Pakistani national was sentenced to 27 months in jail by Judge Mark Horton this week (September 7th) at Bristol Crown Court after having admitted to charges of conspiracy to commit immigration offences.
His Romanian 'bride' was also charged and sentenced to a seven month jail term.
Zairu Munsif, from the UK Border Agency's crime team, commented on the incident: “Today's sentencing sends out a strong message to those thinking of taking part in sham marriages.
“We take this kind of abuse of the system very seriously and we are working closely with churches and registrars to identify suspect weddings.”
The official added that the UK immigration authorities will investigate wherever there is evidence to suggest that a wedding is not genuine, preventing the ceremony and prosecuting those involved.
Sham marriages tend to involve a non-European national and somebody from within the European Economic Area and are conducted with the intention of gaining long-term residency and the right to work and claim benefits.