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UKBA warns immigration advisers risking losing their practice if they jump queue

Date: (29 November 2012)    |    

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The UK Border Agency has warned that immigration lawyers who help clients jump queue in appointments system for work permits would risk sanctions that could end their practice.
The method known as a 3am appointment, immigration advisers, including immigration solicitors use fictitious client names to book appointments online to reserve a place in the queue.
When a real client needs an appointment the adviser cancels the fictitious appointment online in the early hours of the morning before taking the now free appointment a few minutes later.
The practice has grown as delays in processing change of circumstance applications from people with tier 2 (employer – sponsored) status have lengthened.
It happened after home office cuts, immigration practitioners complain that it may take six months from submitting a form to obtaining a necessary follow-up appointment.
A UKBA spokesperson said they were aware of attempts to get around the appointment booking system and were taking steps to prevent individuals and organisations from doing so. Anyone found to be abusing the system may be banned from using it.
UKBA has reported the practice to the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner. The commissioner has wide powers to regulate immigration advisers including ‘limiting or varying’ the levels of work advisers undertake.
Other sanctions available include disciplinary charges. The commissioner can also enter premises and seize records.
In relation to the ‘3am practice’, the UKBA spokesperson confirmed that, working with the commissioner, UKBA would thoroughly investigate any specific allegations’.