I need to complain about an immigration advisor. What should I do?
Immigration is an emotive subject. Few who have gone through the process of family formation/family reunion would describe it as a stress-free process. In fact most would describe it as a needlessly stressful experience which introduces unnecessary delays and over-the-top paperwork.
And in such an environment, there are always those who lurk with the idea of exploitation. Scammers have been on this island since the time of Julius Caesar, and today's environment is no different. So it's reasonable to expect that individuals seeking immigration relief might be targeted by scammers. However, poor advice does not always come from the intent to scam someone, it can come from a CAB, or even the "help desk" at the Home Office.
- If you think you have been overcharged, you can apply to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT). The OFT operates under a policy of equality, and protects the public against unfair business practices. They have a hotline where an aggrieved consumer can discuss a complaint with a specialist. The hotline number is 08454 04 05 06 (if it's busy keep trying!). Alternatively, the OFT web site is at Consumer Direct
- If you are upset because the Home Office reached a decision which was adverse to you and your representative should have prepared better, you can contact the Law Society. The Law Society has a scheme which deals with complaints about misconduct, unethical practices, and poor service in general.
- If you received inaccurate advice from the Home Office's helpline, or the UKVisas helpline, there is little that can be done. You can send us an email at consultation and we may be able to signpost you in formulating a complaint. A complaint to the Home Office, or UKVisas, however, cannot be used to overturn a decision that was adverse to you. You can also take up problems of this sort with your MP.
- If you received faulty advice from an internet resource, such as a forum or FAQ, we'll try to set them straight; but there's little to be done of direct benefit to you.
- If the above options are not appropriate, you can go to the person involved and ask for their "Complaints Procedure". In the UK, any organization dealing with the public should have this, and failure to provide you with it is usually actionable. You can then take their "Complaints Procedure" to an independent, non-profit agency and get the matter sorted out. This is the most effective all-round remedy to a grievance. Our complaints procedure, for example, is here.
- There is also a regulatory agency called the "Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner" (OISC) which is chartered to operate a complaints scheme. This agency was originally created by Parliament, but has been used by the government as a way to staunch defections to the British National Party. The Border and Immigration Agency pays for the OISC and uses it to complain about minority advisors who put forward difficult, awkward, or embarrassing casework, but they offer a complaints procedure to the general public as well. Using the OISC for your complaint is a risky approach for reasons we shall point out below.
Can I take up a complaint with the Office of Fair Trading if I am not British?
Yes. We have verified this and you will be treated just like any other complainant.
The Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC)
operates a complaints scheme. Can I be deported if I go to the OISC with a complaint?
Yes, you can be deported, and you may never be allowed in the UK again even if you have a legitimate complaint. The OISC is funded by the regulatory infrastructure of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate, and they are not empowered to offer immunity to complainants. Our analysis of information requested under the Freedom of Information Act tells us that this is especially true if you are a minority. Take note that if you are British, you cannot be deported, but you may be listed on government computers as an informant. Finally, due to the appalling ineptitude of Immigration Services Commissioner Suzanne McCarthy, we cannot recommend the OISC as an objective or viable resource.
I am here on a work permit (spousal visa, fiance visa, etc). Can I take up a complaint with my MP?
Yes. To do this, you can use the locator at the "Find your MP" web site. #
Reviewed 5 May 2012