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UK immigration: Sham marriages on the increase

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UK immigration officers busted a 'sham' marriage ceremony last week, after receiving a tip-off that the bride and groom were not a genuine couple.

Five people were arrested in total, including the bride a 27-year-old Hungarian national, and the Pakistani groom, 33. Three wedding guests were also arrested at the wedding ceremony which was taking place at Hull Registry Office. It is reported that a large sum of cash was also seized.

Detective Sergeant Andy Norris, from the UK Border Agency, confirmed: 'We are confident we have caught these illegal activities before Hull is made a hub for this sort of crime. People who think they can use Hull in this way will need to think again.'

UK work visas

It is thought that these 'bogus' wedding ceremonies are on the increase in the UK, as it appears to be an easier route to migrate to Britain compared to the alternatives. In recent years the UK has greatly reduced the immigration routes available to prospective migrants. One of the few immigration routes available is the Tier 2 work visa. However, you need to have a professional or management level job offer from an employer willing to sponsor you. The employer also needs to have a Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence.

It appears that some EU citizens are being paid large sums of cash to marry non-EU citizens, who then apply to UK immigration to remain in the UK.

Home Office Criminal Investigations spokesperson, Mark Bates said: 'Where we receive information that a wedding may be suspicious we will investigate and, if necessary, intervene and arrest those involved.'

He added: 'This investigation will now continue following the arrests we have made and the evidence we have seized.'

The couple are under suspicion of conspiracy to facilitate a breach of UK immigration law, and are being questioned along with one of the other wedding guests – a 48-year-old man. Two of the other guests have since been released.

There were an estimated 9,100 'sham' weddings in the UK last year, which were reported by members of the public, or registrars. It is thought that there are many more which go unreported.

UKIP MP Douglas Carswell said: 'It sounds like it's happening on an industrial scale, but there is nothing we can do because we are part of the EU.'