All too often we read that immigration fraud has been detected years, even decades, after the event.
But our British colleagues have just reported the prevention of a case of immigration-related marriage fraud before it occurred.
Part of the story apparently relates to a heads-up marriage license clerk, and part to an underlying British immigration policy situation that is different from ours and which I will get to later.
As background, a European Union citizen in Britain routinely has legal status there and can convey that status to a non-EU citizen by marriage, despite the fact that neither is a British citizen.
The conspirators in this case were Monika Mitrova, 23, from Slovakia, and Abiodun Adesope, 31, a Nigerian in Britain on a student visa. Monika, according to a news report, was paid £1,000 to be the "bride".
The news report is sketchy, but it does say that Monika had already "married" a Bangladeshi man six months earlier for the same reason and, apparently, had not divorced him.
On September 3 the Slovak-Nigerian couple "visited the register office to arrange the wedding [presumably getting a marriage license]. The British Border Agency were informed [presumably by the register staff] and the pair were arrested on October 3 — the day of the planned wedding."
Thus, the British enforcers managed to prevent the first act of marriage fraud by the "groom" and the second act of fraud by the "bride". They also prevented the bride from committing bigamy, a separate offense; both were tried about five weeks after the attempted marriage and sent to jail, he for a year, and she for two. Both will be deported after their release from jail.
The speed of all this is in contrast to the usually much slower process in the United States.
In a previous blog, before I learned of this case, I had a chance to discuss the (casual) U.S. reaction to the extensive use of the marriage vow to create visas to the United States, as opposed to the much more vigorous scrutiny of such marriages in Britain, and in Europe broadly.
My luncheon partner was a British lawyer and legal scholar who was concerned about the levels of control placed on visa-creating marriages in her country. What the Brits have done to limit the admissions of alien spouses is to lay on an English-speaking requirement for spouses from non-EU and non-English-speaking nations, and have set a (she said) relatively high income standard for the British spouse. The income of the arriving spouse, even if that person has a high one, does not count. The United States has no language requirement for arriving spouses, the financial requirements are minimal, and the finances of the resident's parents can be invoked in the United States, but not in Britain.
She pointed out that our relatives category for incoming immigrants is much broader than Britain's — they have (sensibly) dropped categories for siblings, parents, nieces, and nephews. Further, they have no group of 50,000 visas set aside for diversification. The presence of all these migration opportunities means that restrictionists here have plenty of things to question before we even get to the marriage categories.
That's not the case in Britain, so worries about all relative visas (here) get concentrated on marriage visas (there.)