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

Admin

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 volunteering for UKCEN.

Eline van der Vlist

Admin

Eline is a curator and researcher in contemporary art. She has lived in London since 2000, taking her freedom of movement rights for granted. After Brexit she used UKCEN’s advice on several occasions. She started volunteering for the group as an admin to support others who wish to secure their status in the UK.

Karen Fornos Klein

Admin

Karen graduated in Public Relations and has a master in Marketing; however her real passion is project management. She is a certified PMP and nowadays works as Business analyst in IT environments. When Brexit was voted she found UKCEN group and after some months there, when Claudia needed help with moderation she offered her help. “Being in a group that has a goal and a positive and helpful view of this situation is a great chance to learn, support and meet other constructive people.”, says Karen.”

Muriel Joset

Admin

Muriel is originally from Belgium where she graduated in French and Spanish Linguistics and Literature at the Liege university (Belgium). After 1 year of teaching French as a foreign language in Belgium, she moved to England and started to work in a big IT company where she still works today. Soon after the Brexit referendum, Muriel decided to apply for her British citizenship. With the help of the UKCEN, she became a British citizen in January 2018. Muriel found the forum so useful and helpful to others that she offered to volunteer. Muriel is a mum of 2 (dual citizenship) children, who loves running and traveling the world to enjoy new cultures.

Alessandro Riolo

Admin

I was born on the western coast of Sicily. My kindergarten was Saint Mark’s square in Venice. I read my classics in a grammar school in Sicily. I was taught the secrets of my guild in the city of silk. I did climb the white cliffs of Albion as I shared with my sweeter half only the language of Shakespeare. After duly paying my taxes for seven years, I kindly asked to become a British citizen, a pleasure I was then granted. There is some irony on that, but to discovered why, you’ll have to read a thousand words: http://ale.riolo.co.uk/2013/04/a-thousand-words-worthier-than-picture.html

Elina Wilson

Admin

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

Admin

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

Admin

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.

Jss Garrido

Admin

Jesus was born in Spain, but he has spent more years in the UK than there. He studied towards a postgraduate degree on Social History at Royal Holloway, London; besides History, his other interests are Civil Rights, and the Arts in general.

Silja Mai

Admin

Silja is a qualified nurse with more than 20 years of experience in the the NHS and in Germany in a variety of roles. She is very aware of the impact of Brexit on the NHS and it’s multinational staff, many being unsure about their future status. Having recently aquired PR and British Citizenship herself with the help of the UKCEN forum, she would now like to offer help and support to other EU citizens applying for PR/citizenship through volunteering at UKCEN.

Anne Wessemann

Admin

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

Admin

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 after feeling very cross since the referendum. She naturalised in April 2018 and is delighted to be able to volunteer for UKCEN.

Jana Kohl

Admin

Born and raised in Germany with a Master’s degree in Russian language and literature from Moscow University, Janamoved 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

Lawyer

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.

Victoria Sharkey

Lawyer

Victoria has practised immigration law since 1998. Initially with a London based private immigration firm, where she specialised in work permit applications for IT professionals. She subsequently spent 18 months in India working with several multinational IT firms. On returning to the UK, Victoria worked for the Immigration Advisory Service, where she specialised in asylum and family appeals. Following a year spent working for a UK Member of Parliament, Victoria returned to private practice. Her caseload includes spousal and family applications, representing at the First Tier and Upper Tribunal, and a large number of ‘outside of the rules’ applications.

VICTORIA IS TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.

Tariq Nawaz

Lawyer

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

Lawyer

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

Lawyer

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

Lawyer

Bilaal Shabbir

Lawyer

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

Lawyer

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

Lawyer

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

Lawyer

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).

Bojana Asanovic

Lawyer

Bojana Asanovic is a barrister in private practice at Lamb Building. She has a wide-ranging practice in immigration and asylum matters at all levels of statutory appeals and judicial review challenges. Bojana's specialist interests are in claims involving EU free movement, sexual orientation and gender identity and trafficking. She is instructed regularly in very complex cases involving vulnerable clients. She is experienced in dealing with high value business matters. In suitable cases she can accept instructions directly from clients (Direct Access).

Please see Bojana’s profile.

 Saaima Khalid

Lawyer

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.