Visa vanishing act: UK’s largest immigration fraud unravels

By Our Reporter

A colossal visa scam, orchestrated by solicitor Jatinder Kumar Sharma and his associates, has recently come to light, casting a shadow on hundreds of Indian nationals residing in the UK. Sharma, alongside his wives Neelam Sharma and Rakhi Shahi, operated Univisas, a fraudulent firm that played a pivotal role in securing UK visas for over 900 individuals through forged documents and fake university identification certificates.

The operation of Univisas was not just confined to the Indian community. It had a broad outreach, with clients from over 20 countries, primarily from the Indian subcontinent. However, the majority of the beneficiaries, around three-quarters, were from India, and about 150 were from Pakistan. The British High Commission’s acknowledgment of the diverse clientele of Univisas underscores the magnitude of this fraudulent enterprise.

British authorities, after a thorough investigation, raided the offices of Univisas. The haul was significant: over 980 visa forms, counterfeit ink stamps, falsified pay slips, and a host of other fabricated documents. The legal ramifications for Sharma and his associates were severe. The Isleworth Crown Court found them guilty of multiple offences, including money laundering, conspiracy, and the use of false documents. Sharma was sentenced to seven years in prison, Rakhi Shahi to eight years, and Neelam Sharma to four years.

The repercussions of this scam are extensive. Approximately 50 individuals have already been deported, with another 50 facing similar action. Around 200 passports are under review. Notably, the British authorities are not acting in isolation; they are in coordination with the Indian government to manage the fallout of this case.

The scam has ensnared individuals who entered the UK through Univisas, many of whom were unwitting victims of Sharma’s criminal activities. These individuals are now facing the stark reality of deportation to India and a subsequent 10-year ban. The scam’s impact extends beyond immigration issues; it reflects on the integrity of the immigration process and the vulnerability of those seeking a better life abroad.

This incident, uncovered through a sting operation by a British newspaper, led to the recovery of a staggering 90,000 documents, reflecting the scale of the scam. The operation generated approximately £1.5 million, some of which has been recovered by British authorities.

The unravelling of Britain’s largest visa scam has put the spotlight on the vulnerabilities in the immigration system, the desperation of those seeking better opportunities, and the repercussions for hundreds of Indian nationals caught in the web of deceit woven by Sharma and his accomplices. The impact of this scam is far-reaching, affecting individuals, families, and the broader Indian community in the UK.

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