The 33-year-old arrived from Zimbabwe in 2003 seeking asylum.
He was granted leave to stay in the UK, but told he could not work or claim benefits.
Instead Sibanda, a qualified electrician, was placed in Home Office accommodation in Westheath Avenue, Grangetown, Sunderland, and given £35 a week in Tesco vouchers.
At Sunderland Magistrates’ Court yesterday he admitted theft, fraud and using a false registration card.
Prosecutor Rachael Dodsworth said Sibanda had produced papers which led Nissan to believe he had permission to work in the UK.
He worked on the company’s production line for 18 months, earning more than £36,000 before he left over a row with another worker.
Sibanda then registered with a Durham recruitment firm, where his scam was uncovered.
Defending, Neil Hodgson said Sibanda had been told by the Government Borders and Immigration Agency that due to a lack of resources his case would not be looked at again until 2011.
He said: "Mr Sibanda has no money, no savings, and he can’t get a job.
"He is an intelligent man, who is hardworking and left Zimbabwe because of the regime there."
He added Mr Sibanda had been paid the same wage as a British national and Nissan had no complaints with his work.
Magistrates said the case had been "extremely difficult" but the court had to comply with the decision of the Home Office.
Sibanda was given a two-year conditional discharge. No order for costs was made due to his lack of income. SOURCE: http://www.sunderlandecho.com/