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Thursday, January 22, 1998 Published at 10:34 GMT



UK

Crackdown on bogus immigration advisers
image: [ Many immigrants reaching Britain are targeted by bogus advisers ]
Many immigrants reaching Britain are targeted by bogus advisers

The UK Government is to crackdown on cowboy immigration advisers who charge vulnerable people exorbitant fees for worthless advice.

The Home Office says thousands of people who apply to enter the UK as immigrants or ask for political asylum are being swindled.

Often the immigrant will give up to £5,000 to an adviser in return for a consultation which never takes place.

Other bogus immigration advisers are bleeding the legal aid system of millions of pounds as they take futile cases to tribunals.


Home secretary Jack Straw explains why new rules are vital (4' 41)
Some have been given poor or completely wrong information which affects their chances of staying in the UK.

At the other end of the spectrum, some solicitors offer immigration advice but do not fully understand the complex rules.

The Home Office knows of 250 firms, 40 of which are lawyers, conning immigrants and the taxpayer.


[ image: Keith Vaz MP says many people in his constituency suffer at the hands of advisers]
Keith Vaz MP says many people in his constituency suffer at the hands of advisers
Keith Vaz MP said that these so-called advisers showed a "bucket shop mentality" towards the interests of their clients.

Many members of the immigrant community in his East Leicester constituency had experienced problems, he said.

"They have gone for advice to these immigration advisers," said Mr Vaz. "They seek help in very difficult and vulnerable circumstances and they are given advice that is ineffective, wrong, bad or downright corrupt.

"As a result their families are affected and their rights to stay in the country are put under great strain.

"I strongly welcome the proposals being put forward. They will enable a proper debate to be carried out, shedding light on a twilight zone in terms of advice given to people."

The Home Secretary, Jack Straw, is starting the crackdown with a consultation paper that includes proposals to regulate the industry.


[ image: Asylum seekers often find their cases prejudiced by poor advice]
Asylum seekers often find their cases prejudiced by poor advice
Mr Straw said: "Any of us who have large numbers of black or Asian constituents see this abuse week after week.

"It is a desperate situation. There are about 80,000 cases waiting decision. Probably between 10 and 20% of these will be accepted.

"Their cases are jammed up because of these bogus asylum seekers having claims represented by these racketeers."
 





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