Suspended jail term for immigration adviser who posed as solicitor

Immigration: Adviser took money under false pretences

A woman who falsely claimed to be a solicitor and provided immigration advice when not qualified to do so has been given an 18-month suspended sentence.

The judge at Warwick Crown Court said Arshiya Siddiqui had given “some of the most persistent displays of dishonesty on oath” he had seen.

Ms Siddiqui, 43, was found guilty of two counts of providing unregulated advice, for which she received eight months’ imprisonment on each count, and one of fraud, for which she was sentenced to 18 months, all concurrent and suspended for 18 months.

She was also given a 25-day rehabilitation activity requirement and a curfew running between 9pm and 6.30am for two months. No costs or compensation were awarded.

An investigation by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) found that, between July 2015 and March 2020, Ms Siddiqui, from Coventry, provided unregulated advice to two people, falsely claiming to be a solicitor to one of them, which impacted their ability to study in the UK, and had a negative effect on the residency applications of the other.

His Honour Justice Cooke said: “You were willing to and did misrepresent yourself as a solicitor, repeated the misrepresentation and took money under false pretences. You gave some of the most persistent displays of dishonesty on oath that I’ve seen in a long time.

“I watched the jury shaking their heads in disbelief and laughing at what you were saying. There is an element of self-delusion – you have a higher opinion of your own abilities than is warranted. You have some insight into your own lack of ability, you know just enough to provide stalling tactics, but not enough to make compelling cases.

“You should hang your head in shame for the way you conducted yourself on oath at the trial.”

John Tuckett, Immigration Services Commissioner, said: “Ms Siddiqui’s crimes had a serious effect on her victims affecting their claims to long-term residency, ability to study in the UK and costing them thousands of pounds in so-called ‘fees’.

“The severity of the sentence sends its own message as to how seriously such crimes are seen by the courts.”

Immigration work is unique in that it is not a reserved legal activity but has its own regulatory regime. Non-lawyers must be regulated by OISC, which currently oversees over 3,000 individual immigration advisers and 1,600 organisations.

It has just launched a consultation on a revised code of conduct that moves towards a more principles-based approach and reflects “the standards expected of professional legal advisers”.

Among the changes is removal of the requirement on organisations to submit their fees scales to OISC for approval or amendment.

Leave a Comment

By clicking Submit you consent to Legal Futures storing your personal data and confirm you have read our Privacy Policy and section 5 of our Terms & Conditions which deals with user-generated content. All comments will be moderated before posting.

Required fields are marked *
Email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


The path to partnership: Bridging the gender gap in law firms

The inaugural LSLA roundtable discussed the significant gender gap at partner level in law firms and what more can be done to increase the rate of progress.

Why private client solicitors should work with financial planners – and tell their clients

Ever since the SRA introduced the transparency rules in 2018, we have encouraged solicitors to not just embrace the regulations and the thinking behind them, but to go far beyond.

A paean to pupils and pupillage

To outsiders, it may seem that it’s our horsehair wigs and Victorian starched collars that are the most unusual thing about the barristers’ profession. I would actually suggest it’s our training.

Loading animation