A Nigerian man has been jailed after attempting to enter a sham marriage to gain a UK visa.
Jayeola Abiola, 27, had entered Britain legally to study at Hull University but his student was visa was due expire in January this year.
The Nigerian paid an organiser £5,000 to arrange the fake wedding – but the plot was uncovered when his supposed bride-to-be struggled to remember his surname.
Prosecutor David Bradshaw told Hull Crown Court:
“…he wished to continue staying in this country and he arranged to raise the sum of £5,000 and to use that money for an arrangement called a sham marriage. Had it happened in the normal way of things, he would have been able to stay in the UK.”
The organiser – who is due to be sentenced at a later hearing – contacted Portuguese woman Vania Pinheiro-Fernandes and gave her his wife’s passport for use in the fake marriage.
But when the couple went to register the fake marriage in November last year, they roused the suspicions of a local registrar, Bradshaw told the court.
“The registrar was suspicious because he thought straight away that the lady was not the person in the photo on the passport. She was also a little bit unsure about the surname of the proposed groom and their answers seemed to be rather rehearsed rather than freely given.”
She alerted immigration authorities who lay in wait for the couple when they returned for the ceremony.
The prosecutor recalled:
“With a touch of irony, the music selected for the proposed wedding was The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.”
Abiola and Pinheiro-Fernandes were arrested.
Sentencing Abiola to 12 months, Judge Gurdial Singh said:
“It’s often been said that sham marriages… strike at the heart of the immigration system.”
He told Abiola: “When you realised you were in danger of becoming an over-stayer, it was your idea to enter into a sham marriage. And you paid for it. This was a commercial enterprise and therein lies the seriousness.”
Pinheiro-Fernandes, meanwhile, received an eight month sentence.