AN immigration advisor who ran a visa racket, helping people stay in the UK illegally, has to repay £800,000.
Indian national Vijay Sorthia, 36, is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence, having been found guilty of fraud offences in April 2012.
Through his firm Migration Gurus, based in High Street, Wealdstone, the 36-year-old used dozens of front companies, fake payslips and deceptive wage payments, to make it appear as though visa applicants were ‘highly skilled migrants’ in a bid to boost their chances with their immigration applications to the Home Office.
He charged his clients a fee and sent £467,000 of the proceeds to India.
His wife Bhawna Sorthia, 32, who claimed to be employed as a cleaner by Migration Gurus, was sentenced to 15 months alongside her husband at Isleworth Crown Court, in May 2012.
The Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) won a confiscation order for £799,000 on Monday, September 9, at the same court.
The £333,000 cash that officers from the Home Office’s West London Criminal and Financial Investigation team found hidden at Sorthia’s home, in Langland Crescent, Stanmore, after arresting him there in May 2010, will go towards the sum.
If the outstanding amount is not paid within the next six months, Vijay Sorthia will serve an additional three-and-a-half years in prison.
Mark Rickard, from the Home Office’s West London criminal and financial investigation team, said: “I am delighted that the court has ordered the Sorthias to pay back this money, obtained through criminal activity which abused our immigration laws.”
Simon Jennings, SOCA branch commander, said: “Through this confiscation, we have been able to deprive the Sorthias of a significant amount of cash.
“Money is at the heart of all organised crime and is the motivation for most criminals, so we are determined to make sure they can’t enjoy their profits and the lifestyle that may bring.”
Fifteen clients who benefitted from the Sorthia scam have already been convicted and sentenced to between eight and 10 months in prison, and 14 of these have already been removed from the UK.