Tough new regulations for immigration advisers
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Issued 14 May 2009
Tougher new rules to tackle rogue immigration advisers are to
be launched by the Government, the Home Office announced today.
The proposals would give greater powers to the Office of the
Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) to tackle unscrupulous as well
as untrained and unqualified advisers. Poor advice can cause distress
to individuals, delay hearings, and slow down casework and decision
The measures announced today are set out in the 'Oversight of
the Immigration Advisers Sector Consultation', giving users and
stakeholders an opportunity to give their views on how immigration
advisers can be better regulated.
It is the OISC's role to ensure that those giving immigration
advice are qualified. It currently regulates over 1,600 organisations
and around 4,000 individuals.
As part of a toughening up of the system, the consultation
* tightening restrictions on individuals who have provided
immigration advice illegally so they cannot own or participate in an
immigration advice business;
* strengthening the rights of the OISC to access and inspect
immigration advisers; and
* issuing businesses with 'yellow card' warnings to say that
their practices are not up to scratch. These would act as notice to
improve standards and set out any changes required.
Border and Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said:
"The Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner plays a
crucial role in making sure that people are getting the right advice on
immigration matters and tackling those advisers that play the system
and offer false hope.
"Any abuse of our immigration laws will not be tolerated.
Attempts to frustrate the system cost the taxpayer money and make it
more difficult for people who genuinely need our protection.
"Those responsible will be investigated and prosecuted. The
OISC has already undertaken over 75 successful prosecutions, but we
need to help them to take tough action earlier."
Since its creation in 2001 the OISC has driven up standards
across the immigration advice sector.
It has received over 3,500 complaints about advisers - it has
successfully prosecuted 77 organisations and individuals, issued 67
formal cautions. The courts have issued nearly £60,000 in fines and
compensation, and awarded around £45,000 in court costs.
Suzanne McCarthy, Immigration Services Commissioner, said:
"The OISC has already created a successful regulatory system
and raised the standard of immigration advice available. If these
proposals are implemented it will allow the OISC to give greater
protection to individuals from unscrupulous advisers and protect the
immigration system from abuse. Good immigration is in everyone's
interest. Bad advice ruins lives."
These improvements to the regulation of immigration advisers
follow the reforms, announced last week, to the Asylum and Immigration
Tribunal. The Tribunal reforms will mean a faster, more efficient
system that will save the taxpayer money, speed up the removal of those
who are found not to need our protection while integrating genuine
asylum seekers quicker.
These changes will help to improve public confidence in the
immigration system and are part of the biggest shake-up to the
immigration system for a generation. This also includes fingerprint
visas and ID cards for foreign nationals that lock people to one
identity, and our high-tech electronic border controls that check
people against police, immigration and customs watch-lists and will
cover even more passenger journeys by the end of this year.
1. The Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC)
was created by the 1999 Immigration and Asylum Act to regulate the
immigration advice and services sector. The OISC is a Non-Departmental
Public Body (NDPB) and started operating in May 2001. http://www.oisc.gov.uk
2. The 12 week consultation will run until 6 August 2009.
3. A copy of this consultation document is available on the
UKBA website http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk
and Home Office website http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk
4. James McDonald, 60 from St Johns Street, Stirling, was
ordered to pay a £5,000 fine, £1,000 compensation and £5,600
prosecution costs in April 2008 for providing illegal immigration
advice to Pakistani immigrants, in exchange for money. McDonald told
his clients he worked on a 'no-win, no-fee' basis, but in fact he took
money claiming it was for expenses.
5. Winston Leachman, 48 from Dagenham, Essex, was sentenced in
April 2008 to 11 counts of illegally providing immigration advice in
exchange for money. He was given 12 months imprisonment, suspended for
two years, on each count to run concurrently. He was also ordered to
perform 150 hours of community service, pay three of his victims £1,635
in compensation, and pay £7,965 in prosecution costs.
6. Lloyd Msipa, 38 from Barking, Essex, was convicted in June
2008 of providing immigration advice and services that he was not
authorised to provide. Msipa pleaded guilty to six counts of illegally
providing immigration advice. He was sentenced to nine months
imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, and was ordered to pay £1,450 in
compensation to his victims.
7. Max Kingsley, 59, from Margate, Kent, was jailed for nine
months in September 2008 for illegally providing immigration advice.
Kingsley, who passed himself off as a professor and took thousands of
pounds from his victims, was convicted of 12 counts of illegal
provision of immigration advice.
8. Immigration appeals, fair decisions; faster justice',
published jointly by the Tribunals Service and UK Border Agency (UKBA)
is available from http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2009-05-15 16:08:44 in Economic Articles