A man has been arrested as part of a suspected UK spouse visa sham arrangement.
Officers from the UK Border Agency (UKBA) arrested the Algerian man moments before he took place in what is suspected to be a sham marriage ceremony held in Watford.
The officers acted after receiving information suggesting that the relationship between the 28-year-old man and his 31-year-old Hungarian 'bride-to-be' was not genuine. They raided the town's registration office on Hempstead Road and arrested the man for overstaying his UK visa and remaining in the country illegally.
Sarah Burton, assistant director at the UKBA, commented: “We are working closely with registrars to clamp down on sham weddings and civil partnerships. This operation is another example of the success that we are having. Where there are suspicions that a relationship may not be genuine we will investigate and, if necessary, intervene to stop it happening.”
The Hungarian woman involved in the case was working as an exotic dancer and later admitted to the investigating officers that she was being paid to go through with the marriage ceremony. She was later released following questioning, but the Algerian has only been granted immigration bail and will be removed from the country once his case has been processed.
Steve Charteris, head of statutory services with Hertfordshire County Council, noted that the council works closely with the immigration services and will inform them of any marriages that are suspected of being shams.
Earlier this year, the home secretary Theresa May announced that the UKBA is to be broken up as it has proven ineffective. The organisation will be stripped of its agency status to ensure that it falls under the remit of ministers and its responsibilities will be divided in two, with one department working on the provision of UK visas for international talent and foreign visitors, and the other dedicated to tackling UK immigration law enforcement issues.