Hundreds of people who used sham marriages to stay in the UK after Brexit are STILL in the country – with nobody removed in the past two years and the last prosecution in 2018
- The EU Settlement Scheme let European citizens and families stay post Brexit
- But scam saw EU citizen enter a sham marriage to non EU citizen to let them stay
- Freedom of Information Act requests show 365 were caught but not removed
Over 350 sham marriage couples have escaped prosecution and been allowed to stay in the UK.
A total of 365 wedding scammers exploited a post-Brexit scheme that let EU citizens and their other halves the right to remain.
But despite this none of them have been removed in the past two years, with the last prosecution some four years ago.
The last criminal case was in 2018 and saw nine people convicted and four not allowed to stay in the UK.
Details of the new numbers were uncovered by Freedom of Information Act requests submitted by the BBC.
In response to the findings, the Home Office said there were less investigations due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The EU Settlement Scheme – which was set up in 2018 – let European Union citizens and their families stay in the UK after the country left the EU.
It was conditional on them being resident by December 2020 and applying for permission to stay.
Justyna Sobieraj recruited brides to take part in sham marriages so immigrants could remain in the UK
Nationals from 60 countries were involved but the most were from Albania with 146 taking part
BBC News said it discovered couples tried to exploit the scheme by entering into a sham marriage.
It saw an EU national extend their residency rights to their non-EU pretend partner.
The FOI requests showed between March 2018 and the end of September 2021, 365 sham marriages happened between an EU and a non-EU national.
Nationals from 60 countries were involved but the most were from Albania with 146 taking part.
The Home Office said it took sham marriages very seriously and were determined to stop them
Dr Ervin Muco, in Albania, told the BBC ‘These networks know how to cheat the system and they are making money from people who are prepared to pay.
‘In recent years, most Albanian men who have left this country have gone to Italy or Greece – but some of them haven’t been able to get citizenship in these countries.
‘So some do try to find women from European countries they can marry.
‘They can have all the benefits of being a European citizen.
‘And because Britain was an EU member, many Albanians have been attracted to the UK.’
The Home Office said it took sham marriages very seriously.
A spokesman said: ‘As the public rightly expects, we take abuse of the spouse-and-partner immigration routes very seriously – and to suggest otherwise is wrong.
‘We will not hesitate to take enforcement action against individuals found to be in a sham marriage or civil partnership, including cancelling their leave and removing them from the UK.’
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