An immigration issue surely ranks as one of life’s big crises. Like bereavement, divorce and debt, an unresolved immigration status has the potential for life-altering consequences. For example, if you’re an asylum seeker, getting your case wrong at court makes you a failed asylum seeker and, as such, unable to reopen your claim without fresh evidence. You are also, of course, vulnerable to imminent deportation. This is why good legal advice from experienced professionals, such as an immigration solicitor, is so important.
Sadly, the tightening of the UK immigration framework and the cuts to legal aid have opened the door to an increasing number of advisors who do not have their clients’ best interests at heart. A recent ruling from the High Court confirms that many immigration solicitors are instructing unqualified individuals or those lacking sufficient experience to act for vulnerable migrants. The results are predictable: poorly drafted applications are rejected in court, legitimate claims are lost, and some migrants are encouraged to spend thousands of pounds pursuing unwinnable claims.
What should you look for from an immigration solicitor?
Against the background of such reports, if you, or someone you know, requires the services of an immigration solicitor, what do you need to know? What should you be looking for?
A firm that offers a tailored-approach
Whether you are seeking one-off advice, an application checking service or full support throughout the application and appeal process, you need a firm with reputable immigration solicitors that appreciates that your case is unique.
A firm that understands the issues surrounding legal aid
You may not be eligible for legal aid and, if you are, it may be difficult to find a firm that accepts publicly funded clients. However, it is essential that your immigration solicitor inform you if you do fall into the narrow category of individuals eligible for legal aid for immigration representation.
A clear explanation of the likely costs of your case at the outset
This will help you understand how much you will need to pay an immigration solicitor in order to fund the work.
As flexible an approach to fees as is possible
Some immigration cases may be suitable for a fixed fee approach. Your immigration solicitor should explain if this is possible for your case and, if not, why not. For those more complex cases that may not be suitable for a fixed fee approach, some solicitors may offer payment plans.
If you are unsure which firm to turn to, you may wish to contact one of the specialist immigration charities for initial assistance. Bail for Immigration Detainees and Migrant Help are both useful sources of support. Citizens Advice may also be able to help, as well as signpost you to agencies that can offer further assistance.
How can we help?
At Clifford Johnston & Co, we have many years of experience of assisting individuals with a wide variety of immigration matters, including:
- Applications to join family
- Applying to settle in the UK and to gain British citizenship
- Immigration appeals and challenges
- Applications for asylum and humanitarian protection
- Visiting or studying in the UK
Our team of experts is always happy to talk you through your situation, and will provide you with bespoke and timely advice and representation.