Community, Diaspora and Immigration

Interview with Clyde James Head of Policy, Publications & Stakeholders, Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC)

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Could you give us a brief overview of OISC?
We are responsible for the following:
Strategic policy –our code of standards, rules and other regulatory documents, plus guidance
Publications – as far as possible we ensure that our publications are up-to-date and relevant.  This includes our website
Stakeholders –we are responsible for engaging with stakeholders, internal customers, regulated advisers, the wider immigration and legal advice community, Government and the general population

How do you identify a certified immigration advisor?
A regulated adviser appears on our website under the Find an Adviser section, further, all regulated advisers must display their certificate of regulation, signed by the Commissioner and our “global tick” logo should also displayed, usually as a window sticker.

Can you register to become an advisor if you are qualified?
You can apply to be regulated.  There are no specific qualifications, similarly there is no guarantee that an application to become regulated will be successful. The OISC will look at the application, the adviser’s personal history (including a CRB check) and their competence will be tested .  We wish to ensure that the adviser is “fit and competent” to provide immigration advice and services.

Are advisors required to have a Professional Indemnity Insurance?
All advisers are required to have Professional Indemnity Insurance.  Failure to have PII would automatically lead to the refusal of an application or the Commissioners seeking to withdraw regulation from those already in the scheme.

How do someone become an immigration adviser if wishes to? 
An application is made using the documents on our website.  We look at personal history, competence, the organization structure that the adviser is wishing to become part of, the financial status/ business plan for the business, plus many other factors when deciding to award a certificate of regulation.
We also look at the type of advice that the adviser wishes to give we regulate at 3 levels, put simply, Level 1 is for basic advice, Level 2 more complicated advice, Level 3 advocacy and representation before the immigration courts

What makes an advisor to be disqualified?
If an adviser is found to be operating illegally or in gross breach of  the Code of Standards or the Commissioner’s Rules then the Commissioner can lay a charge against them before the immigration services tribunal.  The Commissioner can ask for a wide variety of sanctions, including an indefinite ban. This ban action has resulted to the advisors below.  We are under a duty to publish those banned.

  • African Legal Advisory Services: Indefinitely prohibited
  • Samba Mwani-Gambamba: Indefinitely prohibited
  • Jacob Moyo: Indefinitely prohibited
  • Rizwana Javed: Indefinitely prohibited

What Immigration advisers provide advice and services on?
Under the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 immigration advice and immigration services must relate to a “relevant matter”.  As defined within the Act, ‘relevant matters’ means any of the following:

  • a claim for asylum;
  • an application for, or for the variation of, entry clearance or leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom;
  • an immigration employment document;
  • unlawful entry into the United Kingdom;
  • nationality and citizenship under the law of the United Kingdom;
  • citizenship of the European Union;
  • admission to Member States under Community law;
  • residence in a Member State in accordance with rights conferred by or under Community law;
  • removal or deportation from the United Kingdom;
  • an application for bail under the Immigration Acts or under the Special Immigration Appeals Commission Act 1997; or
  • an appeal against, or an application for judicial review in relation to, any decision taken in connection with a matter referred to in paragraphs (a) to (j).

If a person gets wrong advice from an adviser and fail their asylum application, can they sue them?
Yes the can
We have a lot of people claiming to be advisers, is it wrong and how do we safeguard the community from unregulated advisers?
It is illegal to claim to be an immigration adviser (offer advice), while not being properly qualified i.e. regulated.  Further, it is illegal to give immigration advice or services while not properly regulated.

Any advice for those seeking advice and how best to find it? 
Look for a regulated immigration adviser on the OISC website they will have the OISC global tick logo, as attached.  There will be an OISC regulation number, those that operate “for profit” have a number that starts with an F followed by 2 and 7 digits, this shows the year that the organization was first regulated e.g. F20101234, those that operate on a “not for profit” basis have a regulation number that begins with an N e.g. N20063456.

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