With so many specialist immigration lawyers in the UK, choosing the right one can be very difficult. Here’s some guidance to help you find the best legal support and get the best possible outcome for your case.
How to find a qualified, experienced UK immigration specialist you can trust
Whatever your circumstances, deciding you want to change the country where you live or work is a huge decision, so you’ll want your application to have the best possible chance of success.
When you’re comparing lawyers, check their success record in handling immigration cases, look at how long the firm’s been established and read online reviews to see what their past clients have said about them.
As you may already know, immigration is an extremely complex legal area and Home Office policy is constantly changing due to politics and new case law.
Many law firms in the UK take on various types of legal work. To be confident your solicitor is fully up to date on the current immigration procedures, we’d strongly recommend you only consider lawyers who work purely in UK immigration law. You should then check that they’re also qualified and registered with the appropriate regulating body (see below).
Just as importantly, when you’re talking to them, decide whether you like them. Do you feel they genuinely care about helping you? You’re putting your future happiness in their hands so,if something doesn’t feel right, listen to your instincts.
Keep looking until you find a qualified, experienced and regulated specialist you trust enough to work with.
What’s the difference between immigration solicitors, barristers and OISC registered advisors?
The UK legal qualification system can seem confusing. Here’s an overview of some of the main differences in roles:
- Solicitors are lawyers who are regulated by the Solicitors Regulating Authority and traditionally offer support directly to their clients. They will also handle all communications with the Home Office, stay in contact with case workers, put together evidence and prepare the bundles of documents you need. Solicitors traditionally instruct barristers if you need representation in court. Solicitors may not necessarily specialise in immigration and it is important that you deal with specialist immigration solicitors.
- Barristers are lawyers who specialise in presenting the case in court. Practising barristers are regulated by the Bar Council. They tend to be instructed by solicitors or OISC advisers rather than offering a direct service to clients. Many barristers now take direct access work, but their profession is different and their skills are usually complimentary to the skills of solicitors. Barristers specialise in contentious work, which is where there’s a dispute about how the law should be applied, how facts are to be interpreted, or how a public body, like the Home Office, has to perform their duties. Solicitors and OISC advisors aim to get the right outcome without going to court.Their experience allows them to navigate their way with fewer arguments. Cutting out a solicitor from the process to work with a barrister directly is often false economy as it rarely saves time or money from the process.
- OISC advisers can be professional solicitors, barristers or even people with no formal qualifications in law. To be approved and registered by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) though, they would have passed the OISC examination for each level of competence, starting from level one to level three and Judicial Review case management. These levels of competence determine what type of work they can take on.
- Top Level 3 Registration authorises the adviser to represent clients in immigration courts known as First-tier Tribunal and Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber).
- OISC firms generally charge less than big firms of solicitors. As with anyone you’re thinking of working with in your application or appeal, it’s important to check they’re properly regulated and get in touch to see if you like them.
Does it matter where your immigration lawyer is based in the UK?
It doesn’t matter whether you choose an immigration law firm in London or elsewhere in the UK. It’s easy these days to discuss your instructions over the telephone, by email or on a video call. The best possible way to see what your immigration adviser will be like to deal with is to get in touch.
Have a brief chat about your case and get some general advice. This will help you see whether the adviser is a specialist in UK immigration law and how professional they are. It also lets you know how efficient they are in responding to your emails, returning your calls and booking your appointments.
Why it is important to have an initial contact and what you can expect
You may wonder if it’s worth hiring an immigration lawyer. When deciding whether to make the application yourself or instruct a specialist, there are several things to think about, including the complexity of your case.
If you are not sure, book an initial free phone call with an immigration specialist. They can assess your situation, answer general questions and suggest the way forward.
The consultant may confirm that they can accept your instructions, suggest the next steps and give you a quote. You may or may not need an initial consultation – this depends on the complexity of your case and the issues that need to be addressed before the consultant can accept instructions and give you an opinion on the prospects of success.
This consultation should help you decide if it’s work asking a professional to help you.
How to instruct a UK immigration lawyer
Before you ask a UK immigration lawyer to represent you, you should agree on the terms. Each law firm, be it solicitors, barristers or OISC registered advisors, should set these out in a Client Care Letter which would confirm your instructions, their fee structure ( and how you can make a complaint if you’re not happy with the service they give you. This engagement letter would also confirm the regulating body of the firm.
UK immigration lawyers’ fees
For many people, price is understandably an important factor in choosing a legal representative. But making your decision on price alone is never a good idea.
Lawyers’ fees tend to reflect the amount of time and effort they’ll put into preparing your case. Choosing the cheapest can mean working with someone who won’t put enough time into your case to give it the best possible chance of success.
A lot of people who trust their visa or citizenship applications to a low-cost, low-quality firm end up with a Home Office rejection. Many of those people then come to us to handle their appeal, request for reconsideration or judicial review.
It’s always a better strategy to get the right outcome first time as challenging negative decisions is more difficult and time consuming than preparing a fresh application.
Applicants who’ve never had a refusal have a much better prospect of success.
Investing in a top-quality specialist from the start could save you all the time, hassle, money and worry of the appeals process by presenting the best possible case in the first place.
Equally, don’t be swayed by plush carpets and expensive office postcodes. It’s best to choose your lawyers based on their track record and reputation. If you can, speak to the lawyers first to see whether you develop a good rapport.
Why choose Kadmos as your immigration lawyers
If you wonder if Kadmos would be a good match for you, please read Why choose us page. You can also browse our services and decide what level of service you need. If not sure, give us a call and we will be happy to have an initial chat with you.