After giving each other a vapid smile, they separately went on their own way.
The couple does not have a honey moon or any sweet kisses because they have just done an affair – sham marriage.
When the Australian government has tightened immigration policies, some overseas students and foreigners are expecting sham marriages as an opportunity to settle in Australia.
According to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s report, there were approximately 42,000 foreigners granted with partner visas in 2010-2011 alone, rising 55 percent in comparison with the 1997-1998 periods.
Dreams to be Australian citizens
A restaurant in New South Wales looked really busy on a Saturday night in May.
On the upstairs of the restaurant, bridegroom Kevin Tran (*) looked elegantly in a suit, standing besides his bride, Vicky Nguyen (*), a Vietnamese student in Sydney.
Around the couple were their friends and relatives who were invited for the dinner, not for sharing the joy of the couple at the wedding party.
They were trying to smile in front of the camera.
All pictures would be evidences to submit to Department of Immigration and Citizenship, so they were trying to do everything look real.
In the yellow light, Kevin Tran was standing beside a wedding-cake and slowly kissed Vicky’s lips.
The flash of camera fired.
Vicky Nguyen just paid AU$ 20,000 to Kevin Tran before the wedding, the second time.
Previously, she had deposited AU$ 5,000 fifteen days ago when Kevin had agreed to help her with a sham marriage.
She will pay additional AU$ 40,000 when she gets permanent resident visa.
Totally, she will have to pay around AU$ 75,000 for her dream to become an Australian citizen.
That is huge money with many people who are in her hometown and many Australian as well.
But, to her, that is an acceptable price, because if she does sham marriage with another foreigner in her hometown it may cost more than AU$ 80,000.
“My parents borrowed money from my family’s relatives.
After getting permanent resident visa already, I will work hard to pay the loan and sponsor my parents to migrate to Australia.
Sydney is the greatest city for living that is the reason I do sham marriage”, Vicky said.
Brian Pham (*), another Vietnamese student in Sydney, has paid AU$ 40,000 in cash for his sham marriage with a Vietnamese – Australian girl.
He will pay extra AU$ 45,000 when he holds the permanent resident visa.
Besides that, he has to pay for the wedding party and any related fees.
The man will pay totally around AU$ 95,000.
“There is a different price of sham marriage between man and woman.
If you do sham marriage with a Vietnamese – Australian girl, it is always more expensive, about AU$ 10,000 – 20,000 more,” Brian Pham explained.
Getting a sham marriage in Australia is not too hard, Brian Pham said.
“There are many advertisements on local or community newspapers.
After choosing one of them, I just prepare money and follow their advices.
The marriage celebrant service covers everything and they told me do not worry anything. That is their business so they know the best way to do”.
Brian Pham, 20, looks too young for marriage, but he is ready for any interview with the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.
And now, he is waiting for the fortune.
Kevin Tran, 20, said that he is doing an easy business and win-win situation.
“I need money to buy a car and Vicky wants to stay in Australia”, he said.
He said he had to share 10 percent of his income from the sham marriage with an agency which offered to arrange the commercial marriage.
The final payment is usually made after two years when the marriage is declared lawful; actually, the agency takes their money in the second payment when they organize the wedding party.
“That is quite long but the profit from this affair can solve many problems when I do not have a job.
The interesting thing is that I do nothing but I get amount of money.
It is an easy job”, Kevin Tran added.
He looks really confident and believes that Vicky Nguyen and he can pass the interview of Department of Immigration and Citizenship.
“The agency is really professional in this kind of affair so they prepare many possible questions for us.
Besides that, they (agency) arranged many evidences such as letter, pictures to submit to Department of Immigration and Citizenship to argue our historical relationship.
So, I think it is not easy to detect the sham marriage if we do not say”, Kevin Tran said.
Kevin Tran unveil that he is the second one in his family doing commercial marriage.
His sister was offered to arrange a sham union with a Vietnamese man one year ago.
“Everything done well and my sister got AU$ 60,000 to help my family rebuild the house.
She will get the last payment in several months when her partner getting PR (permanent resident)”, Kevin Tran said.
Linda Le, who is Kevin Tran’s mother, added:
“I have another son.
He is now 16 years old.
The agency will offer him to do commercial marriage as being grown up”.
Linda and her son know that a sham marriage is an illegal affair, but they think that they do nothing wrong.
“We do not steal anything from others.
Our business does not threaten anyone. It is simple that we help others who want to live in Australia and we get some money to spend for living cost.
Of course, we will not do this if we are a well-to-do family,” Linda said.
Kevin and his mother do not want to disclose any information about the agency that is arranging his commercial marriage and offering his young brother.
However, it is not too difficult to find an agency to do the kind of illegal business.
There are many advertisements on community newspapers as a type of marriage celebrant services, migration services and law consultancy services; actually they arrange the commercial marriage to their customer as a major business.
There were 220 partner visas canceled and nearly 3,150 applications for partner visas dismissed due to marriage scam in 2009, according to Herald Sun.
However, the number is still small in fact when the applications for partner visa are rising remarkably and many oversea students as well as foreigners are still expecting sham marriagea as an easy way to get a permanent resident visa and to be an Australian citizenship.
(*) The real names of characters in the article have been changed.
By Cong T. Phan (Sydney, Australia)