- Saima Shaheen, from Pakistan, overstayed her student visa by five years
- Ms Shaheen says she is angry at the way illegal immigrants are treated
- Has now claimed asylum and says she deserves to be approved to stay
- Worked for unscrupulous lawyer 'like a slave' and was too scared to leave
- Nazakat Ali was jailed for six years in April for running immigration scam
For Saima Shaheen, a would-be barrister from Pakistan, her new life in the UK hasn't worked out quite as she hoped.
Originally admitted on a student visa, she became an illegal immigrant after it ran out and says she was forced to work like a slave by an unscrupulous lawyer who threatened to reveal her immigration status if she didn't.
Now, more than five years after her visa ran out and four months after her corrupt former boss was jailed, she has decided to claim asylum in the UK but is furious about the way she has been treated.
Upsetting: Saima Shaheen overstayed her visa by more than five years but has now applied for asylum
Dodgy: Ms Shaheen's former boss Nazakat Ali ran an immigration scam setting up fake marriages
'My life finished when I became illegal,' says Ms Shaheen who is living in a taxpayer-funded home and on an allowance of £37 a week while her claim is processed.
'My life finished. In five years, I never travelled by tube and I never travelled by bus because I was scared to be deported.
'I'm ashamed to say that in this country, a dog's life is better than an illegal person's.'
Currently, there are an estimated 860,000 illegal migrants living in the UK, each of which is thought to cost the taxpayer up to £4,250 each per year.
But with the threat of a visit from immigration officers and police hanging over their heads, many resort to desperate measures - as Ms Shaheen knows only too well.
Her former boss, crooked solicitor Nazakat Ali, was jailed for six years in April for running a lucrative scam that saw him charge up to £10,000 a head to turn desperate Indian and Pakistani men into British citizens.
Ali, 38, organised thousands of sham marriages with Eastern European women, many of whom had been trafficked into the country themselves, before creating the paperwork needed to convince the Home Office of the men's 'human right' to stay.
Shaheen, as an illegal overstayer herself, was terrified of her unscrupulous boss who threatened to reveal her immigration status to authorities if she spoke out.
'It was a nightmare to be honest,' she reveals. 'I used to cry outside every single day.'
The enormity of the scam, she says, left her overwhelmed with work but, terrified of Ali, she never spoke out about what was going on.
Terrified: Ms Shaheen, pictured outside her former office with a friend, says she was terrified of Ali
Big job: An estimated 860,000 illegal migrants live in the UK and cost taxpayers up to £4,250 each
'Whenever I used opened the door, there was a queue,' she remembers. 'It was massive. I was the one who used to open the post and I have seen a lot of British passports come in on fake applications.
'You can say, a single day, 80 passports. I was being treated in this office like a slave and my mouth was zipped shut.
'I was not allowed to say a single word. Mr Ali believed the Home Office was in his hand because he kept submitting fake applications and the Home office kept granting it.
Problem: Would-be migrants, such as these men in Calais, were preyed upon by Ms Shaheen's dodgy boss
'There's a lot of Mr Ali around in UK but they do it under the table.'
Now in the midst of an asylum application, Ms Shaheen believes that a British visa is the least she deserves following her ordeal.
'I think I deserve it because obviously, I came into this country full of dreams,' she explains. 'I wanted to be something.
'Now I want to complete my studies, become a barrister and to do something in this country.'