A suspected sham marriage in Hounslow was halted by Home Office immigration enforcement officers last week (April 26th) after a suspected UK spouse visa scam was uncovered.
Officers received information regarding the relationship between a 22-year-old Indian man and a 21-year-old Latvian woman that called in to question the validity of their marriage. The team then headed to the Hounslow Civic Centre where the wedding was due to take place and intervened just before the ceremony got underway.
They arrested the Indian man for overstaying his UK visa and remaining in the country illegally. His 'bride' was taken in for questioning but later released, while the 'groom' is to be detained ahead of his removal from the country.
Sarah Burton, head of the Home Office's West London Immigration Enforcement team, commented on the case: “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 'couple' had reportedly met over conversations through online chat service Skype. But it was soon uncovered that the relationship was not genuine and the team took action to ensure that the 'groom' did not obtain a visa through illegal means.
The news comes shortly after a bogus bride and groom who had planned another sham wedding in Harrow were both jailed for 12 months. The pair had planned a marriage to allow the Pakistani 'groom' access to long-term residency in the UK, as well as the right to work and claim benefits in this country.
UK spouse visas are a valid immigration option but they are only available to those in genuine relationships with a partner in Britain or the EU.