A bride and groom have been arrested on suspicion of having attempted to conduct a sham marriage to obtain a UK spouse visa.
The couple – a Chinese woman and man from Country Antrim – were arrested during the wedding ceremony at Belfast City Hall this week (Wednesday, August 10th) after an investigation by UK immigration authorities found information to suggest that the marriage might not be genuine.
Sham marriages tend to take place between an EU national and an individual keen to acquire a spouse visa and long-term residency. However, a marriage is not enough to permit a person to remain in this country legally; the relationship itself must also be genuine to start with.
Earl Aiken, senior criminal investigator for the UK Border Agency, commented: “The UK Border Agency is determined to identify marriages that may not be genuine, and where we suspect that may be the case we will investigate.
“We have specialist teams of immigration officers and police working together to investigate cases just like this and ensuring people are not able to benefit from breaking the UK's immigration laws.”
The Chinese woman, 46-year-old Shuli Lin has appeared before Laganside Magistrates Court charged with seeking to obtain leave to remain in the UK by deception and was later remanded in custody. Meanwhile, the intended groom, 54-year-old Robert John Nicholl, and 19-year-old daughter of the bride Ye Wang, were both charged with assisting unlawful immigration and bailed to re-appear at a later date.