Portuguese Bigamist Bride Jailed for 4 Years for Multiple Sham Marriages
A Portuguese ‘bride’ who entered into numerous sham marriages in return for cash has been jailed for 4 years.
Tania Sofia de Paiva Aniceto, 25, of Boundary Road, Barking, was arrested after specialist Home Office investigators became suspicious of multiple applications for leave to remain in the UK as spouse of an EEA national, submitted by foreign nationals. All the applicants claimed to be married to either Aniceto or Sandra Monteiro, an alias that she was using. Home Office enquiries established that false Portuguese identity documents had been submitted to support the applications.
Aniceto married 4 Nigerian men at ceremonies in Brent, Lewisham, Rochdale and Southwark between May 2010 and June 2012. She was arrested at her home address on 20 November 2012 and later charged with 5 counts of facilitation and 4 of bigamy. A charge of possessing a false identity document was later dropped from the indictment.
As yet the Home Office has not traced or arrested the ‘husbands’, although technically only one of the men is legally married to lady. The men face arrest and removal from the UK if found to have no other leave to remain. The Home Office says that the men are from Ghana, Pakistan and Nigeria.
On 14 April, Ancieto pleaded guilty to 1 charge each of facilitation and bigamy, but not guilty to the remainder. A 3-day trial was scheduled for 16 October 2013. She eventually pleaded guilty to all the other charges.
Aniceto was sentenced to 4 years at Basildon Crown Court on Friday 18 October.
Immigration Minister Mark Harper said:
‘By extending the marriage and civil partnership notice period to 28 days in England and Wales and allowing this to be increased to 70 days in some circumstances we will make time to investigate, prosecute and remove those involved in 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.
The issue of sham marriages has been at the fore front of recent Home Office changes to the Immigration Rules. Some of these changes started in July 2012 when the Home Office changed the ‘probationary’ period that couples must remain married before the non-EEA spouse gains indefinite leave to remain in the UK. Unfortunately we have found in our work that it is not just the foreign nationals seeking to remain in the UK who sometime try to take advantage of sham marriages. The reality is that many of the European’s nationals who ‘offer’ their services in marrying non-EEA nationals just for the purposes of assisting them in obtaining visas can also easily take advantage of the law. Our experience in assisting and advising clients has always been that sham marriages are, apart from being an offence and a breach of immigration rules, also on the whole likely to be result in failure. Once an immigration applicant has entered into a sham marriage it often turns into a slippery down hill path, with one problem leading to another. Added to this is the fact that a sham marriage is in effect an immigration fraud. Any person found to be relying on a fraudulent document or marriage is likely to lose a significant amount of credibility with the Home Office and also there are paragraphs 320 of the Immigration Rules to take into consideration. These basically state that you can be barred from making any further immigration applications for up to 10 years after you have been found to have lied to the Home Office.
The best advice is therefore, no matter how complicated and precarious a persons immigration status is, avoid sham marriages at all costs. For anyone who is concerned about their immigration status and who needs some expert immigration advice from a solicitor, call us on 020 8401 7352 to arrange a mutually convenient appointment. Remember that anything you discuss with us will always remain confidential. We understand that many people are living in the UK illegally and fear the consequences of identifying themselves. However; with immigration rules constantly being tightened and thresholds being raised there is no better time than right now to make a start at regularising your stay, where possible. As experts in immigration law we will always be able to tell you exactly where you stand and what will be the best steps to legally resolve your status.