Andzelina Surmaj, a 30-year-old Polish woman, and Milan Cina, a 38-year-old Czech man, were caught after investigators were alerted to possible sham marriages following tip offs from the clergy in Accrington.
Officers from the UK Border Agency uncovered a string of suspected sham marriages which had taken place at two churches in Accrington between December 2008 and January 2009. Further enquiries also revealed that they had also gone on to organise phoney weddings in Levenshulme and Clayton le Moors.
Immigration Minister Damian Green said: ‘Today’s sentencing sends a clear message to anyone considering breaking our immigration laws that Britain is no longer a soft touch.
‘These organisers have systematically abused the immigration system and placed a huge pressure on the public purse at a time when the country can least afford it.
‘The UK Border Agency is taking strong action to crack down on sham marriages nationwide. Our message could not be clearer - we will not tolerate immigration abuse and offenders will be caught.’
Andzelina Surmaj, formerly of Girlington Road, Bradford, was sentenced in her absence to a total of three years eight months for conspiracy to facilitate a breach of UK immigration law by a non-EU person and assisting with the organising sham marriages. A warrant has been issued for her arrest after she failed to attend court.
Milan Cina, formerly of Lister Gardens, Bradford, was sentenced to a total of five years for conspiracy to facilitate a breach of UK immigration law by a non-EU person and acting as a witness assisting with the organising sham marriages.