Two people have been jailed for their role in a UK spouse visa scam, the UK Border Agency (UKBA) has confirmed.
In July of this year, a group of specialist UK immigration officers arrested three individuals at a sham marriage ceremony in Banbridge Register Office.
Ansar Mahmood, a 27-year-old Pakistani, was about to marry 19-year-old Latvian Inese Millere when the ceremony was raided. Mahmood was arrested at the scene and has been held in custody since the UK spouse visa sham wedding.
He has now been jailed for 11 months on charges of seeking leave to remain in the UK by deception, as well as assisting unlawful immigration by acting as a witness to a sham marriage on a previous occasion.
Asif Nadeem, a 34-year-old Pakistani also present at the wedding, has also been jailed for 11 months for seeking leave to remain in the UK by deception by taking part in a the sham marriage at which Mahmood acted as witness.
Meanwhile, Millere and Jekaterina Dolgu – a 27-year-old Latvian – were sentenced to nine months each, suspended for two years on two counts of assisting unlawful immigration by agreeing to take part and act as witnesses in the sham marriages.
Earl Aiken, senior criminal investigator for the UKBA, commented on the sentencing: “This case shows how people are prepared to enter into a marriage with someone they barely know to help them cheat the immigration system in exchange for cash.
“The UK Border Agency is cracking down on sham marriages and those who seek to cheat immigration laws face jail.”