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Sentencing for immigration fraud

What is the sentence for immigration fraud in 2024?

Crimes such as immigration fraud are becoming increasingly complex in nature. There can often be a network of people and transactions involved to throw investigators off trails.

immigration fraud

It’s for this reason that sentencing can be stiff as the UK look to deter others from committing immigration fraud.

Using dishonest and fraudulent methods to enable illegal entry into the UK, those who are found to be guilty often have a background of fraud. It takes a lot to get past the red-tape and paperwork requirements to facilitate entry to the United Kingdom.

The element present in every immigration fraud case is ‘dishonesty’. The following are typical circumstances that the court is required to crack down on:

  • Entering Without Leave
  • Obtaining Leave by Deception
  • Overstaying
  • Failing to Observe Conditions of Leave
  • Assisting or Facilitating Unlawful Immigration
  • Facilitating Entry of Asylum Seekers
  • Employment of Illegal Immigrants
  • Forgery & Counterfeiting Offences
  • Identity Document Offences; or
  • Non-Co-operation With a Request for Information

One of the biggest immigration cases of recent times is a crime that was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court. Using ‘immigration advisors’, a number of companies were created with the intention of cheating the Home Office and HMRC. Fortunately, the four people involved were caught out early, and prevented from the public purse losing out on millions of pounds.

To help you to understand what the outcome might be as a result of being convicted of an immigration fraud offences, we’ve detailed the sentencing guidelines below.  Please note that a competent and experienced solicitor may be able to get any prison sentence reduced or even avoid it entirely.

Read more information about the offence of Immigration fraud

Have you been charged or arrested for immigration fraud?  

Being charged or accused in connection with immigration fraud offences is very worrying. It’s typical for the accused party(s) to feel stressed, confused, anxious and genuinely concerned about what the outcome of any investigation might be.

There might be some confusion about who was involved, who did what and what happened. It might be that you weren’t even involved in any of what you are accused of, and there should be no suspicion of you playing a role.

If the latter is the case, it’s vital that you hire a lawyer with immigration fraud experience so that you can have your case dismissed and your name cleared of any involvement immediately.

Examples of what offences may be part of your immigration fraud case

Many different acts and crimes can contribute to an immigration fraud case. It’s a very complicated area of law which can only be navigated successfully by an experienced solicitor. Here are some examples of the crimes, offences and wrongdoings involved:

  • Student visa fraud
  • Being illegally employed to work in the UK
  • Human trafficking
  • Sham marriages
  • Identity fraud
  • Modern slavery
  • Forged documents
  • Forced marriages
  • Bogus colleges, degrees and certificates
  • Visa and passport fraud
  • Sponsorship fraud

Due to the complex nature of immigration fraud cases, it can be challenging for prosecutors to prove that the accused have acted dishonestly. Each year thousands of people do whatever they feel will work for them to enter the UK in the hopes of living a better life. In many cases, prosecutors will make a call on whether it’s in the interest of the public to prosecute or not. The outcome may be just to deport the person without spending taxpayers resources on further investigation and detainment.

Something to note is that it’s recommended for anybody who is considering prosecuting a party that is suspected of being involved in immigration fraud to ask immigration for information on laws and entitlement before taking up a case.

What is the average sentence for immigration fraud offences?

If you are charged, found guilty and convicted of immigration fraud, you’ll likely receive a custodial prison sentence. This offence is a primary focus for the UK government to stamp out.

Sentences are worked out by judges using the guidelines issued by the Sentencing Council in addition to looking at the seriousness and circumstances of the crime.

How does a court decide on the seriousness of the immigration fraud offence for sentencing purposes? 

The information that judges are given with regards to sentencing are only guidelines, and each case will be looked at individually. One of the factors judges consider in every case of this nature is the defendant’s level of genuine remorse.

The following factors are considered when the court decides which sentence to give. They will look at:

  • Your previous conviction(s)
  • How remorseful you are
  • How many people were involved
  • Were any of the people involved considered to be vulnerable people
  • How much money was involved

What are some of the mitigating factors that might reduce the immigration fraud sentence?

When sentencing for immigration fraud, your case will be investigated thoroughly by the police and other regulatory agents.

It will be looked at for whether you have taken part in a group activity or to see if you were forced into it. If you’ve used a false identity, or you have used the identity of others to access more funds, this will be considered to decide your sentence.

Certain aspects of a case are known as the mitigating aspects which can influence the sentence that a judge gives. One of the factors judges consider in every case of this nature is the defendant’s level of genuine remorse.

The following are some of the other factors considered when the court decides which sentence to give. They will look at:

  • Any previous conviction
  • Your level of remorse
  • Your level of cooperation with the investigation
  • Whether the activity you took part in was initially legitimate
  • Your reputation / good character
  • Whether you have any severe medical conditions that require long term, urgent or intensive treatment
  • Whether you have a learning disability or a mental disorder
  • Whether you are the sole or primary carer for related dependents

Is it possible to reduce a sentence for immigration fraud with a guilty plea?

In recent years, many changes have been made to the sentencing system in the UK to save the court time and cost and to protect witnesses from the stress of needlessly going through a trial. For offenders aged 18 and over, pleading guilty early on in a case can reduce a sentence by as much as one third (maximum). The later the plea is entered, the smaller the reduction.

‘Early on’ refers to ‘the first stage of the proceedings’ and means anytime up to and including the first hearing at the Magistrates Court or Crown Court for indictable offences.

If a plea is entered 14 days after the first hearing, for example, the maximum level of reduction is just 20% or one fifth of the sentence. For indictable offences, the limit for a guilty plea to be made is within 28 days after the prosecutor has stated compliance with section 3 of CPIA 1996 and serving disclosure; although the decision is ultimately in the hands of the Judge who has discretion to apply whatever credit is deemed appropriate.

After these times there is a sliding scale of credit applied. This goes down to one tenth on the first day of the trial and to zero if entered during the course of the trial. In theory, the ten percent could be given if the plea is issued after the opening speeches on the first day, but prior to any witness evidence being heard.

If the accused does not want to plead guilty, then it’s important for the solicitor to regularly inform the court throughout the trial of the reasons why the client’s plea is not guilty.

What are some of the other consequences of immigration fraud offence?

Ancillary Orders

A court can also make ancillary orders on a defendant if they are found guilty and convicted of an immigration fraud offence. These are extra elements of punishment that can be added to a sentence and include additional restrictions or requirements that can affect a dependent’s finances, your property or business or financial activity.

Ancillary orders that are typically added to the penalty for those who are found to be guilty of immigration fraud include:

  • Compensation for loss
  • Restraint orders
  • Reparation orders
  • Financial reporting order
  • Disqualification from directing a company
  • Confiscation orders

As part of your investigation, you may also have your assets frozen with the possibility of having cash or other assets seized.

In addition, the court may demand payment of the following if the accused is convicted:

Payment of costs applied for by the prosecutors

Although the police meet some of the costs involved in the prosecution, the costs of investigation are typically sought from the convicted. These may include the costs of:

  • The work done in obtaining enough evidence for prosecution either at the initial stage or later at the request of Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)
  • Seeking medical or expert evidence as part of the investigation, (where a witness is required to attend Court, the cost of the attendance falls on the CPS).
  • Re-interviewing witnesses
  • The entire costs of the prosecutor, including fees for the use of external Barristers used by the CPS, can be recovered from the defendant, subject to means. At the end of the case, the prosecutor under The Prosecution of Offences Act 1985 will request the Judge to order a sum to be paid for the costs incurred by the prosecutor in bringing the prosecution.

Victims surcharges

The term victims’ surcharges can be explained as paying compensation to a fund for victims and can range between £20 to £170 depending on what sentence you were given at conviction.

How sentences can be added to national information databases

There are several national databases that hold information about individuals and any allegations made about them, their criminal and court records. These include the DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) which was previously known as the CRB (Criminal Record Bureau) and the Police National Computer (PNC).  Depending on what happened, whether the accused is convicted and what sentence was issued, the accused may be added to one or all these databases. Their purpose is to provide information to potential employers and to regulate the ability to take part in certain activities.

If your case progresses to court and you are convicted of immigration fraud, your conviction will be noted on your CRB / police record. The period of the endorsement will depend on the nature and length of your sentence.

Below are details on how long you will be listed as holding a criminal record if convicted. This is something very serious to consider when it comes to future employment. The term ‘spent’ refers to when your name can be removed from the databases.

Rehabilitation Period
(the time it takes for the sentence to become ‘spent’)
Sentence Adult (aged 18+) at time of conviction Young person (aged under 18) at time of conviction
Prison sentences of more than 4 years Sentence is never spent Sentence is never spent
Prison sentences of more than 2.5 years (30 months) but less than 4 years Sentence length 7 years Sentence length 3.5 years
Prison sentences of more than 6 months but less than 2.5 years (30 months) Sentence length +4 years Sentence length +2 years
Prison sentences of less than 6 months Sentence length + 2 years Sentence length +18 months
Conditional Discharge Length of order Length of order
Absolute Discharge None None
Conditional Caution 3 months 3 months
Simple Caution / Youth Caution None – immediately ‘spent’ None – immediately ‘spent’
Other Including Compensation Order, Supervision Order, Bind Over, Hospital Order Length of the order / once compensation is paid Length of the order / once compensation is paid

How Can Stuart Miller Solicitors Help?

At Stuart Miller Solicitors, our specialist Immigration Fraud Solicitors will be able to explain the law to you in a way which is easy to understand. We will be able to seek funding for the evidence to be translated in your native language and this in itself will provide you with better chances of success.

Our Immigration Fraud Solicitors have defended some of the largest, most serious and high-profile Immigration Frauds of recent times. We have numerous successful results in this field and defended one of the largest and most significant Sham Marriages prosecutions originally uncovered by the BBC Panorama programme.

We are experts in negotiations with the UKBA and always try to find the outcome most favourable to our client. If we can secure sufficient and credible defence material at the outset, you will find our Immigration Fraud Solicitors eager to seek an early end to the proceedings.

Immigration Offences often have some form of Fraud background. The key element is usually ‘dishonesty’ and our Fraud Solicitors are experts at defending these allegations. Whether you are pursued for offences under the Immigration Act, the Immigration & Asylum Act or the Fraud Act, we will be ready to offer competent advice and provide pro-active representation to achieve your objectives.

If you are accused of Human Trafficking offences or arranging Sham Marriages, you can be confident that our Immigration Fraud Lawyers have the knowledge, expertise and tactical resolve to fight on your behalf.

Have you been arrested or charged with immigration fraud?

If you’ve already been arrested, charged or invited to the police station for ‘a chat’ or police interview, then it’s imperative that you engage the services of a competent solicitor with experience in immigration fraud.

The primary focus of the police is to gain convictions. To aid them in achieving their goal, they are trained in different techniques of getting you to incriminate yourself. Without a legal professional by your side you may say something that gets you into deeper trouble with harsher penalties than need be.

A competent legal professional can also demand to see any further evidence that the police are withholding from you in the hope of getting you to incriminate yourself. Without the help of a lawyer with experience in immigration fraud, things could take a turn for the worst.

This immigration fraud area of law is complex and tricky. Without being continually exposed to it, it would be hard to create a robust defence that could overcome the work of prosecutors. The benefit of using a Stuart Miller fraud solicitor is that they are continually working on cases of this nature.

At Stuart Miller we are a leading provider of solicitors of all types. Typically a case would be approached by several of the team so that all experience and knowledge can be accessed. In addition to the in-house solicitor team, we also use the skills of expert witnesses to put together evidence for each of our clients.

Our team are on hand to answer any questions and to provide the support that you need to get you through your case with the most favourable outcome. Our team has extensive experience and in-depth knowledge of law and will provide you with what you need for the best possible results.

Want to discuss your case with an Immigration Fraud Solicitor?

If you’d like to have a no-obligation chat with us before you instruct us to take your case, then call us today. We can answer any questions that you may have that you cannot find the answer to here.

In addition to giving you a free consultation, we can also represent you at the police station if you’ve been arrested. The police station can be a very dangerous case for those whose case reaches the court stage. It can be a labyrinth of dangers when it comes to the potential of incriminating oneself. Without an experienced immigration fraud lawyer at your side, you could inadvertently put yourself in deeper and hotter water. In addition, we can look at securing your legal aid.

Stuart Miller Solicitors have recently defended several very large cases involving human trafficking and sham marriage allegations. There were vast defence investigations required in these cases which required specialists and not general practitioners. Undertaking foreign investigations, securing huge numbers of witnesses and chasing historic defence material are all fundamental challenges facing an Immigration Fraud Solicitor. Each piece of evidence takes our client closer to success and Stuart Miller Solicitors are always committed to achieving that success where possible.

Taking early and swift action is essential to an improved outcome of your case.  Please Contact Us and ask to speak to our Fraud Solicitors to arrange a meeting in person, online or by telephone. If you prefer, you can WhatsApp us from the link you will find at the bottom banner if you open this page on your mobile phone device.

Please Contact Us and ask to speak to our immigration fraud lawyers and immigration exert solicitors to arrange a meeting in person, online or by telephone. If you prefer, you can WhatsApp us from the link you will find at the bottom banner if you open this page on your mobile phone device.

Get in touch with us now for immigration fraud legal help.


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