Our Team

Claudia Borgognoni Holmes

Group Founder and Chair

Born in Rome… still ‘developing’ in London. She worked in the Tourism industry in Italy and in the UK. Claudia studied at the Middlesex University, she graduated in Deaf Studies, Education and Communication (Interpreting strand) and currently works as Communication Support Worker/BSL Interpreter for various colleges across London. In August 2016, she founded UKCEN. Her idea was to provide reliable information to EU born/UK residents seeking to apply for UK citizenship. She says about UKCEN: “I feel blessed to have met such a very special group people: the volunteers of our group… I wish for all the European citizens in the UK to become voters!”

Adda Macchich


Adda spent many years as a corporate designer, marketing and presentations specialist, working for major financial institutions, before leaving the sector after the global financial crisis in 2009. She then started working as a webmaster and content creator, producing public information materials for local authorities and NHS CCGs. The financial crisis drove her to become interested in legal and consumer matters. Over the years, she became a significant contributor on the major consumer fora and obtained a paralegal qualification with CILEx. She then took an interest in immigration law and is working towards OISC authorisation while working for UKCEN.

Elina Wilson


Elina graduated with an MA in English, German and International Politics from the University of Tampere in Finland, and studied English Literature, Linguistics and Politics at the University of Manchester. She started a career in professional services marketing (working in a law firm and an accountancy firm), but gave it up when her children were born. Elina volunteers as an active PTA member at her son’s school, and also as one of the admins at UKCEN helping others to achieve their goal of securing PR and British citizenship. Elina got her own PR just before the Brexit vote, and stumbled across UKCEN soon after. She naturalised in March 2017.

Miriam Reid


Miriam works as an Executive manager in a multinational financial services company in the City and has experience in transformation, underwriting, client management, project coordination and operations. She has degrees in Economics and Management and is certified in Lean management from Cardiff University. Miriam is passionate about developing women and chairs the UK Women & Allies ERG and is the committee member for Gender Inclusion Network for Insurance. She obtained PR and naturalised in 2017 with the help of UKCEN, where she volunteers as an admin. She is a mum of 4 (and 2 rescue cats!), and in her free time, she loves lifting, boxing and travelling the world.

Louise Wagner


Louise is originally from Germany but – thanks to freedom of movement – also spent several years living, studying and working in Portugal and France.
She moved to the UK 7 years ago to start a job in the Higher Education industry and to complete her Master’s degree. She now works in the Academic Registry of a London-based university where she advises home and international students.
Through work and whilst preparing her own PR and citizenship applications, she developed a keen interest in immigration law and very much enjoys supporting others on their journey to PR/citizenship as a UKCEN admin.

Anne Wessemann


Anne is a Lecturer in Law at the Open University Law School, specialising in European Union Law and comparative constitutional law. She holds an undergraduate degree in German law and is about to complete her PhD thesis titled “European citizenship as a constitutional right according to the rulings of   the European Court of Justice”. Anne also holds a LLM in European Union law.

Anne’s research focuses on the constitutional construct of the European Union and the interrelations with the Member States and is closely involved in current debates around the UK referendum. She is also interested in concepts of citizenship and the European Union citizenship.

Monika Hare


Monika is an academic with a background in social sciences and medical law. As project/trial manager she has focused on supporting vulnerable adults, including the very old, frail, disabled, or those lacking capacity due to intellectual disabilities or dementia. She currently volunteers as Vice Chair of a Research Ethics Committee and takes a keen interest in ethical issues in the care and treatment of older people and the prevention of elder abuse. Monika has lived in the UK since 1992 and finally found UKCEN in Nov 2017. She naturalised in April 2018 and is delighted to be able to volunteer for UKCEN.

Jana Kohl


Born and raised in Germany with a Master’s degree in Russian language and literature from Moscow University, Jana moved with her family to Oxford in the early 90s, and qualified as a certified court and police translator and interpreter. She has since been involved in numerous complex police investigations and court cases with links to Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Russia. Jana is now also sworn as a legal translator and interpreter by the courts of Baden-Württemberg. She is a firm believer in European citizens’ rights and freedom of movement, which allowed her to live her dreams in an open society.

Tim McMahon


Tim works as an Immigration Adviser, registered by the Office of Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC). He is a member of the UK Immigration Law Practitioners Association (ILPA). He has extensive experience in EEA applications for EU citizens and their Family Members including applications for Permanent Residence, Residence Cards, Registration Certificates and Family Permits. He also regularly processes applications for UK Citizenship for adults and children. Further areas of experience include; visas for spouses and unmarried partners, Ancestry visas and Indefinite Leave to Remain. Please see his profile on LinkedIn.

Tariq Nawaz


OISC Level 3 in immigration and asylum adviser. He has dealt all types of applications, does appeals and advocates for clients’ cases in Tribunals. Well versed with EEA law and British Immigration Rules meeting clients’ needs, particularly complex applications involving human rights. In an earlier life he studied mechanical engineering at University College London and practised in the field of power generation and building services in the construction sector. Later on worked as a senior civil servant and a consultant in European legislation and standardisation for the free movement of goods in Europe.

Matthew Davies


Matthew Davies studied at the University of Manchester and the London School of Economics where he gained a Masters in Law (LLM) with distinction. He is Head of the Immigration Department at Wilson Solicitors LLP, managing a team of over forty immigration professionals. With 25 years of experience, his particular expertise is finding solutions for individuals with complex problems. Matthew’s interests include family, EEA nationals, human rights, citizenship, deportation, asylum, adoption and surrogacy. He advises individuals, investors, entrepreneurs, charities and employers and is ranked as a leader in the field of immigration law in the Chambers UK Guide to the Legal Profession.

Melissa Vangeen


Melissa Vangeen is a solicitor who has practised in immigration law since 2001. She has held prominent positions at top London law firms including Head of Immigration at Watson, Farley & Williams and Partner, Head of Employment and Immigration at Solomon, Taylor & Shaw and Head of Immigration at Wells Burcombe LLP.
Melissa is an accomplished lawyer in all aspects of individual and business immigration law including work visas, spouse visas, investor visas, entrepreneur visas, student visas and, of course, all EEA applications. Melissa also advises on UK employment law.
Melissa co-authored the Immigration chapter of the UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) “Investors’ Guide to the UK”. She was also recently awarded “Corporate Immigration Advisor of the Year” by Lawyers Worldwide Award Magazine.
Please see Melissa’s profile on LinkedIn.

Raphael Jesurum


Bilaal Shabbir


Bilaal is an Accredited Paralegal with MBS Solicitors in Edinburgh. He practises in immigration law, family law, commercial dispute resolution and professional discipline. He is Head of the Court of Session department.
Bilaal sits on the Immigration & Asylum Committee of the Law Society of Scotland. He has drafted calls for written evidence to the Scottish Parliament. He recently presented a Petition in the European Parliament on how the UK government can amend the current administrative process to allow EU nationals to more easily obtain a right of residence in the interim period leading up to Brexit. He has a breadth of experience dealing with complex EU law and British Nationality applications.

Deepak Bali


Deepak is a highly qualified and experienced senior solicitor who has successfully built established law practices from the ground up, representing clients with both immigration and employment legal issues throughout the UK and India. He set up DRB Immigration solutions in 2008 and represents high-profile, public clients and high net worth individuals on behalf of the company. Deepak is a regular speaker on Tier 1 investor and Entrepreneur visas and works as in-house counsel to various companies to assist with business visa issues in the UK and other EU states. He also has a proven track record overseeing all aspects of business.

Veera Thakur


Veera is a solicitor with over 12 years’ experience, who started her legal career as a Senior Immigration Caseworker for the Immigration Advisory Service, specialising in asylum and detention. She later became a director of a specialist immigration and asylum advice company. In 2014, she joined a private practice where she headed the immigration team. Veera advises on entry clearance, leave to remain, ILR applications, removals and deportations. She is an expert in EEA free movement rights and has represented clients in all areas of immigration in the First and Upper Tier Tribunal and is familiar in dealing with administrative reviews and Judicial Reviews.

Anthony Valcke


Anthony has been advising on issues of EU law for over 20 years. He is the founder and supervising solicitor of the EU Rights Clinic, the first law clinic to specialise in EU law which was set up by ECAS in collaboration with the University of Kent in Brussels. He is visiting lecturer on EU migration law and EU advocacy at the University of Kent. He is also Adjunct Professor of Law at Vesalius College in Brussels where he teaches undergraduate courses on EU law relating to the single market and legal aspects of migration. He is qualified as a solicitor in England and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association. He is also registered with the bars of Brussels (Belgium) and Palermo (Italy).

 Saaima Khalid


Saaima is Director and Solicitor of JK Law solicitors & Notaries public. Her experience covers all aspects of UK immigration law, British nationality law, EEA free movement rights, refugee convention, the European Convention on Human Rights and Employment law.

Saaima has experience in representing clients at tribunal hearings. She is a bilingual solicitor and represents a number of Urdu, Hindi and Punjabi speaking clients.

Saaima also sits on the board of directors for Council of Ethnic Minority Voluntary sector Organisations (CEMVO) which is a national intermediary organisation and strategic partner of the Scottish Government Equality Unit. The aim of CEMVO is to build the capacity and sustainability of the ethnic minority voluntary sector and its communities. Saaima has a particular interest in helping communities and organisation access and achieve a level playing field in Scotland in respect of access to services and integration.