Cynthia Barker writes...Here are my 3 tips on How to spot a fake immigration adviser and how to find a legally registered qualified firm.
Despite my warnings, migrants are still being ripped off by unregulated, illegal 'immigration advisers', sometimes to the tune of thousands of pounds for doing absolutely nothing.
If you get scammed by a fake adviser, the police won't help you get your money back. They will refer you to the overworked regulator to investigate and prosecute the crime.
Firstly, check the OISC website to see if the adviser and firm is registered to legally offer immigration advice in the UK. It is illegal to give immigration advice in the UK unless you are regulated. Also make sure they are registered at the appropriate level to handle your case - for instance, level 1 firms are not allowed to give immigration advice deal with visa overstayers or illegal immigrants and only level 3 firms can lodge a visa appeal against a refusal.
Secondly, look for obvious signs of credibility, which could also apply to any type of adviser, such as an accountant. lawyer or financial adviser. Does the adviser have an office, landline telephone and website? Do they have proper email address linked to their domain or are they using a Hotmail account? Working from a 'home office' is fine, but they should have an organised office setup.
Lastly, have they given you a business card, proper written terms and conditions and fee scale outlining their advice and charges (same applies to other professionals)? Will they place your money into a client account until the work has been completed? If you are asked for cash only, run out the door and keep running!
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
Use your common sense. Is the person making wild promises which sound too good to be true? Remember the old saying: "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!". If you are in any doubt, get a second opinion before you hand over your hard earned money.
OISC registered advisers are trained, qualified and regulated by a government controlled body. If you use an OISC qualified immigration adviser, you have the back up of a regulator if for any reason you are not happy with the advice.
If you have been affected by Home Office changes or need advice on any immigration matter, including overstaying your visa, EU or UK immigration law, or want to appeal against a refusal, call Cynthia Barker on 07850 307687 or 0208 731 5972 or email her your details to firstname.lastname@example.org. Cynthia Barker is a qualified OISC Registered Immigration Adviser, with 15 years experience in immigration matters, with a team of Level 3 Immigration Law Practitioners, Concept Care Solutions, Middlesex House, 29-45 High Street, Edgware, HA8 7UU.