A Sri Lankan man has been caught attempting to tie the knot with an Italian woman as immigration officers interrupted the couple's 'sham marriage' in Harrow.
With an Italian wife on his arm, the 23-year-old would have been considered an EU citizen and under European law he would have been entitled to claim benefits in the UK.
A Home Office immigration enforcement team raided Harrow Registry Office yesterday, shortly after 2pm, as the pair prepared to say their vows.
Acting on intelligence, which suggested the 'relationship' may not be genuine, officers put a stop to the nuptials and detained the 'bride and groom'.
With full co-operation from the Superintendent Registrar, the team intervened and questioned the 23-year-old Sri Lankan, who was found to have overstayed his visa.
He had been due to marry a 21-year-old Italian woman.
The 'bride' was quizzed by officers and released, while her betrothed was placed on immigration bail while further inquiries take place.
He faces being deported from the UK if he is found to have no reason to stay in the country.
Immigration Minister Mark Harper said: 'We are determined to stop migrants abusing the marriage system to cheat immigration rules.
'The gangs involved in this criminal activity often have links to serious organised crime, and prey on some of society’s most vulnerable people.
'Measures outlined in the Immigration Bill include extending the marriage and civil penalty notice period to 28 days in England and Wales, and 70 days in some circumstances.
'This will give our officers and registrars more time to investigate, prosecute and remove those attempting to stage sham marriages.'
A sham marriage or civil partnership typically occurs when a non-European national marries someone from the European Economic Area as a means of attempting to gain long-term residency and the right to work and claim benefits in the UK.
Cllr Susan Hall, leader of Harrow Council, said: 'The institution of marriage at council register services is being undermined by a cynical marital merry go-round of corruption and deceit.
'It gives a new meaning to the old TV series Blind Date – couples who turn up to council services frequently haven’t seen each other before and as for the language of love – well they frequently don’t have one in common either.
'I welcome the Home Office action in Harrow today and I hope it sends a strong signal that the honeymoon is over for bogus brides and grooms in Harrow.'(Daily Mail)
A Home Office immigration enforcement team broke up a suspected 'sham marriage' at Harrow Registry Office. Two officers are seen here quizzing the 'bride', a 21-year-old Italian woman
The 23-year-old Sri Lankan 'groom' was found to have overstayed his visa. He was detained and released on immigration bail. He faces deportation if he is found to have no reason to be in the country
Poor guy. We need two prolong solution for this. For longer term, we should make next generation qualified enough to select for skills migration category. For short term……keep on trying mate, whatever the means. I understand your desperation .
Ram Tuesday, 29 October 2013 03:24 PM
Who gives those a-holes the right to stop the marriage? How can they determine a real marriage from a sham marriage?
Sonali De Silva Wednesday, 30 October 2013 02:51 AM
The British Govt. And they are not "a-holes". If its not what he's accused of then he will be set free. I don't see why people should get flustered over this. Looks like some people are feeling hot under the collar.
MirakRajBanda Wednesday, 30 October 2013 03:03 AM
Most of the marriages in England and the other European countries is sham, to claim benifits. Look at the rate of single mothers in these countries???
Yuri Wednesday, 30 October 2013 03:17 AM
Honey you all will be Chines soon. do not dream much. Sri Lanka already sold you all yet to find out.
Flatwhite Wednesday, 30 October 2013 04:52 AM
Well said Miraka totally agreed with you.
John Wednesday, 30 October 2013 06:35 AM
Some Sri Lankans living in UK do not like when the real situation about their living standards comes out through media.
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