Immigration is a broad and complex area of law and policy, with frequent changes. It’s therefore very important to find an immigration adviser who is regulated and experienced in providing advice on your particular issue . Make sure you understand what the advisor is going to do for you and, if you are paying, how much this will cost. You should receive a ‘client care’ letter when a person agrees to be your representative, which explains these things. Read it carefully and make sure that you understand it.
Immigration advice is regulated and it is a criminal offence for someone to give immigration advice if they are not regulated to do so, there are two kinds of regulated immigration advisers:
Immigration solicitors –are regulated by the Law Society and the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and are based in solicitor firms or in legal advice charities. Immigration advisers – these are regulated by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC). Immigration advisers can specialise in general immigration or in asylum and human rights law, or both. They have to undergo training and pass exams up to a certain level in the same way as solicitors do, and cannot legally give advice if they are not qualified to do so at the correct level. Immigration advisers can be based in regulated private firms or in community and legal advice charities.
A London-wide list of places (solicitors, law centres and drop-in centres) to get help on Immigration matters is available here:
Can I get free immigration advice, or will I have to pay?
Many immigration cases are now excluded from legal aid altogether. The types of cases which can still qualify for legal aid include asylum, some human rights cases, and cases involving domestic violence and trafficking. For most other types of immigration matter, including most visa applications and human rights claims based on family & private life, you may now have to pay. To check whether you are able to receive legal aid, go to: https://checklegalaid.service.gov.uk
A good immigration solicitor or adviser should explain clearly before they agree to take on your case whether or not your case qualifies for legal aid. This will also depend on your level of financial income. If you don’t qualify, or if the firm does not have a legal aid contract, they should clearly explain how much they will charge for their work, how much work your case is likely to need, the likely costs and when payment will be expected. There is no set fee for particular types of work undertaken by private firms, but good solicitors should be able to give you an indication of the costs . If you are asked for payment in relation to your immigration case, you should always ask for a receipt
Home Office Application fees
The Home Office charges fees for most immigration applications. These can be very expensive and are usually non-refundable, if your application is rejected, so it is important to make sure that your adviser is making the correct application and that you have provided all the evidence required in good time. You will be expected to pay the application fee as well as any legal costs associated with your case. For some applications, it is possible to ask for a fee waiver (i.e. to ask not to pay) if you can show that you are destitute. Your adviser will be able to tell you more about this if you think it might apply to you. https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/uk-visas-and-immigration
National information and advice
The information below includes details of the main websites where you can find general information and advice and search for details of solicitors who specialise in immigration work.
Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association
To find out about solicitors who specialise in immigration work, you can search on the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association
You can also search for a solicitor by location and subject by using the Law Society website at http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/for-the-public/ or the Ministry of Justice website at http://find-legal-advice.justice.gov.uk/
The Refugee Council provide practical support and advice to refugees and people seeking asylum in the UK.
General information on situations where immigration or nationality advice may be needed and details of organisations that can help. www.adviceguide.org.uk
General information about immigration queries on www.gov.uk/visas-immigration. If you want to apply to become a British citizen there is information about this at www.gov.uk/becoming-a-british-citizen.
Local Advice Centres
In Tower Hamlets, the following solicitors and community organisations are regulated to provide immigration advice:
Tower Hamlets Citizens Advice Bureau (OISC Level 1)
Address: 32 Greatorex Street, E1 5NP
Tel: 0207 247 1050
Advice Line: 0344 826 9699 (Mon-Fri, 10am-5pm)
Drop-in sessions on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9:30am, operated on a first-come, first-served basis. Immigration Solicitors every Tuesday evening at 6pm (by appointment only).
Tower Hamlets Law Centre (SRA and OISC Level 3)
Address: St Anne’s Street, off 789 Commercial Road, E14 7HG
Tel: 020 7538 4909 (Monday-Friday, 10am-1pm and 2pm-4pm)
Praxis Community Projects (OISC Level 2)
Praxis is a migrant rights organisation and our services are only available to migrants.
Drop-in immigration advice: Thursdays, 10am-12:30pm for Tower Hamlets residents, and Fridays, 10am-1pm, for non-Tower Hamlets residents only (pre-booking essential: can be booked up to a month in advance in person or by phone: 020 7729 7985)
Address: Pott Street, E2 0EF
Tel: 020 7729 7985 (Reception)
Advice line: 020 7749 7608 (Wednesdays, 2pm-4pm)
Attend office, phone or email Monday–Friday 10am–4pm, to complete an Initial Assessment to access Immigration advice services.