A BANGLADESHI man living in Portadown and a Portuguese woman have been convicted of trying to cheat UK immigration rules after taking part in a sham marriage.
Vaskar Khan (44) appeared at Craigavon Crown Court last Friday where he was sentenced to 10 months’ imprisonment for seeking to obtain leave to remain in the UK by deception and two charges of possessing false identity cards.
His wife and co-accused, Monica Fernandez Batalha (31) received a 15-month sentence suspended for three years for assisting unlawful immigration. She has now returned to Portugal.
A sham marriage typically occurs when a non-European national marries someone from the European Economic Area, or the UK, as a means of attempting to gain long-term residency.
Acting on intelligence UK Border Agency officers arrested Khan, 44, at an address in Carleton Street in February this year. Officers also seized passports, bank cards, and two false Portuguese identity cards found during a search of the premises.
Khan and Batalha were subsequently interviewed by UK Border Agency officers on February 24 when it became clear that they did not speak a common language and could not answer questions about their relationship despite being married for over four years.
Airline tickets were also discovered that showed Batalha had only flown back to the UK from Portugal, where she lives, on February 20 just days before their interview with UK Border Agency officers.
Batalha later admitted that she had received £3,000 to marry Khan in a marriage that took place in the Republic of Ireland.
Following his sentencing, Khan was released as he had been on remand since his arrest. However, Khan was then taken into UK Border Agency detention while steps are taken to remove him from the UK.
Earl Aiken, senior criminal investigator for the UK Border Agency said, “This case shows how people are prepared to enter into a marriage with someone they barely know to help them cheat the immigration system.
“The UK Border Agency is cracking down on sham marriages and those who seek to cheat immigration laws face prosecution and conviction – even when the marriage ceremony has occurred in another country.”