Embassy warns Filipinos against Suspicious Immigration Consultants
The Embassy has received a number of complaints against certain individuals who allegedly defraud people of huge amounts of money by promising to obtain visas through contacts inside the UK Border Agency (UKBA).
These individuals, Filipinos or former Filipinos, boast of a supposed special connection with top immigration officers in the UKBA and that they could facilitate the approval and processing of visa applications. These services include:
Renewal of all kinds of UK visas
Conversion of visas, including expired visas, to Indefinite Leave to Remain visas (ILR )
Fresh issuance of UK visas to applicants relatives residing in the Philippines
They also promise to extend services for job applications or benefits applications such as pension, tax credits, etc.
Victims pay the middlemen either by cash or bank deposit. Initial payment ranges from £2,000 to £2,500 and may subsequently increase depending on the progress of the application. However, the victims never receive their promised visas. Those who have been victimized claim to have paid between £3,000 to £12,000.
The Philippine Embassy advises the Filipino community to transact their business only with licensed and qualified immigration consultants. These consultants / agencies should be registered with the UK Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC), the contact details of which are as follows:
Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner
Address: 5th Floor, Counting House, 53 Tooley St., London SE1 2QN
Telephone: 020 7211 1500 Fax: 020 7211 1553
Before engaging the services of an immigration consultant, please be reminded that:
1) Entry visas from the Philippines to the UK are processed only by the British Embassy in the Philippines.
2) When engaging the service of a consultant, request a list of the services that will be provided to you together with the corresponding costs. You should also visit their business offices and check their eligibility with OISC (see http://oisc.homeoffice.gov.uk/how_to_find_a_regulated_immigration_adviser/). Verify and confirm the professional qualification of the consultant.
3) When making a payment, make sure that you are issued an official receipt that bears information pertaining to the immigration consultant/agency such as business name, office address, contact details, the nature of service being provided, etc. A bank deposit is not an official receipt.
4) As much as possible do not give your original documents. Provide copies instead, and just show only the original documents as proof of authenticity.
5) Do not sign a blank form, or forms which you have not seen or reviewed personally.
6) Be sceptical of consultants whose promises sound too good to be true, or who claim they can influence the decisions of the Home Office, or who guarantee results through expeditious processing of applications.
7) Do not engage the services of unlicensed consultants even if referred by friends or relatives.
8) Exercise prudence in judgement.