Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner
Ms Sandra Amaratunga, of Blawith Road, Harrow, Middlesex was convicted at Hammersmith Magistrates Court of providing unregulated immigration advice and services.
On 18 September 2015 she was sentenced to 26 weeks imprisonment suspended for 18 months. She was also ordered to pay compensation to the victim in the sum of 2,100, prosecution costs of 500 and a victim surcharge of 80. A 3 month curfew was also imposed which will be enforced by electronic tag.
Ms Amaratunga purported to be an experienced immigration lawyer when introduced to a client seeking to assist their partner to obtain a work permit visa. In a series of meetings she charged a fee of 2,100 for her advice and services, demanding cash payments.
The victim became suspicious when Ms Amaratunga refused to issue a receipt and failed to respond to her calls. The client made enquiries, discovering the true position that Ms Amaratunga was unqualified to provide immigration advice. A complaint was then lodged with the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC).
Sentencing Ms Amaratunga, District Judge Boswell said:
You deliberately targeted someone who was vulnerable and you preyed upon that vulnerability. The victim is a single mother who was at a low point in her life emotionally as her partner had been removed from the UK.
In a devious and calculating way over a considerable period of time you were successful in dishonestly taking a significant amount of money from her.
Speaking about the decision, the Deputy Immigration Services Commissioner, Dr Ian Leigh, said:
We have clear standards outlining what we expect in terms of the fitness and competence of regulated advisers. Ms Amaratunga chose to operate outside the law.
I am delighted with the outcome of this case, and I hope this sends a clear message to other people considering providing immigration advice - either act within the law or you will find yourself in court.