A total of 31 bogus wedding ceremonies have been overseen in the town of Rochdale by Church of England vicar Dr John Magumba.
The 58-year-old man, originally from Uganda, is now facing jail for conducting the ceremonies, which were held in order to gain UK spouse visas for the participants.
The vicar was suspended from the Church of England following his arrest in March. However, he is now facing a jail term when sentencing form his crime of conspiring to facilitate a breach of UK immigration law comes through next month.
He has also pleaded guilty to two counts of theft from the church councils after failing to declare income from weddings and funerals held at the two Rochdale churches he worked with in the area.
Dave Magrath, an inspector from the UK Border Agency, commented: “Immigration crime poses a serious threat to the UK's immigration controls, which is why the UK Border Agency is relentless in tracking down anyone who organises or benefits from such criminality, whoever they may be.”
Sham weddings, such as the 31 orchestrated by Mr Magumba, tend to take place between EU-nationals and non-EU nationals so that the non-EU national can acquire a UK spouse visa through marriage.
However, a wedding certificate is not sufficient to allow somebody leave to remain in the country and there must be a genuine relationship behind the marriage for an individual to obtain a UK spouse visa.