A former employee of Solicitors International Human Rights Group (SIHRG) has been fined for giving illegal immigration advice after the charity reported her to the immigration advisers’ regulator.
Alexandra Zernova was an education and training officer at SIHRG. Her Linkedin profile says she worked for the charity between January 2011 and October 2015.
After she had left, SIHRG learned she had been providing immigration advice even though she was not qualified to do so and reported it to the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC), which regulates immigration advisers.
On 13 January, she pleaded guilty to seven charges and was sentenced to pay a £3,500 fine and £2,000 in costs.
Upon sentencing the magistrate said Zernova was aware she was not supposed to give the advice.
“You knew that you were not to provide these services. That is for good reason…Those who seek immigration services are often the most vulnerable.
“You know about these things as you trained in this, you are trained about clients, about their vulnerabilities and about the duty on us as a profession to abide by the highest standards of ethics towards our clients. You did not do that.”
The magistrate also noted Zernova had been working in the sector “over a number of years”.
However, since she cooperated with the authorities and pleaded guilty “at the earliest opportunity”, she was simply fined.
John Tuckett, commissioner, OISC, said: “Immigration services are regulated to protect some of the most vulnerable in our society and to ensure people are getting the advice they need.
“This is why all immigration advisers must be registered by the OISC or be a qualified lawyer to ensure they meet standards in knowledge and ethics.”
According to her Linkedin profile, Zernova is currently a director of Colombia Caravana UK Lawyers Group, which works to promote human rights in Colombia.