London: An Indian man, who had arrived in the UK as a student in 2000 and went on to perpetuate a series of immigration scams, has been sentenced along with his wife for running a racket that helped many Indian citizens and others to stay in Britain illegally.
Vijay Sorthia, 35, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, following which he will be deported to India, while his 31-year-old wife, Bhawna, who helped him carry out the scams, was jailed for 15 months and also faces deportation to India.
The sentences were pronounced in the Isleworth Crown Court yesterday. The couple have three children.
When Sorthia was arrested at his house in north-west London in May 2010, officials of the UK Border Agency (UKBA) found over 330,000 pounds in cash.
Sorthia and his wife ran an immigration advisory company called Migration Gurus.
UKBA spokesman Adam Edwards said: "Mr Sorthia had dozens of clients who had applied to the Home Office for extensions to their visas, claiming to be `highly skilled migrants`. They were mainly Indian and most of them were already here".
Sorthia had accreditation as an adviser with the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC), which is linked to the Home Office.
The accreditation enabled him to assist individuals with claims for asylum, as well as immigration, residence and citizenship applications.
"What the couple did was set up a number of cover companies with bank accounts registered in their own names which would provide clients with pay slips and wage payments to make it look like they were employed as things like IT specialists and earning much more than they actually were".
Between 2008 and 2010, the couple helped more than 160 `clients` illegally gain visa extensions by providing them false documents to claim they were highly skilled migrants.
Fifteen clients who benefited from the Sorthia scam have also been convicted and sentenced between 8 to 10 months in prison.
Fourteen of them have been banished from the UK.
The `clients` reportedly paid the couple between 3,000 pounds and 4,000 pounds for their service.
"When officers searched Sorthia`s property they found approximately 330,000 pounds in cash," Edwards said.