JUSTICE calls for crackdown on unqualified immigration advisers

Unqualified immigration advisers should be better regulated according to a Working Party report from all-party law reform and human rights organisation JUSTICE. The findings come at a time when the Home Office is being frustrated by a high percentage of successful immigration decision appeals, concerns about the quality of some immigration law advice, and the removal of some appeal rights.

The report, Immigration and Asylum Appeals – a Fresh Look, outlined how the Immigration Act 1999 could better protect the rights of service users who are seeking immigration advice. As it stands, unqualified advisers are able to act on behalf of qualified immigration professionals in immigration appeals providing they are supervised.

While the service provided in these situations may sometimes be of a suitable standard, there are concerns that not every firm provides adequate guidance and supervision of unqualified advisers. Furthermore, the work of unqualified caseworkers is sometimes being charged at qualified immigration lawyer rates.

The Working Party examined many aspects of the immigration legal process, including Home Office refusal decisions, statutory appeals, the judicial review process and the right of appeal.
Release of the report was prefaced by comments from Professor Sir Ross Cranston, former High Court judge, and Sir Ernest Ryder, the Senior President of Tribunals. Both expressed their hope that its recommendations would be pursued.

Professor Sir Ross Cranston, who also chaired the Working Party, commented:

The Immigration and Asylum appeal system suffers from widely reported deficiencies and a culture of non-compliance with the rules and practice directions. This leads to high volumes of cases in the appeals system and lengthy delays. The Working Party recognised that the reforms underway present an opportunity to improve the processes, but considered that further measures are needed to effect meaningful change.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) maintain that the current system enables trainees to gain experience. However, both organisations concede that some rules do need to be altered in order to “improve fairness, efficiency and quality of advice”.

However, JUSTICE said that courts should take the lead role in cracking down on “incompetent and dishonest” immigration advisers and unscrupulous immigration lawyers.

Modernisation required

The report also looked at the issue of court modernisation and said that although it was optimistic about the opportunities presented by new technologies it had “concerns about video conferencing and the use of virtual hearings” and called for courts to be given full discretion as to when such technologies are utilised.

“HMCTS should proceed with caution in its implementation of the reform programme in the immigration and asylum chambers, testing each advance thoroughly, introducing each change incrementally and carefully monitoring outcomes before proceeding to introduce the next change,” commented a JUSTICE spokesperson.

Ensuring good immigration law advice

Good advice is essential when dealing with immigration law and related immigration processes –unqualified advisers sometimes have a role to play but they should not be allowed to work without full guidance and supervision. Wellers Law Group offers the services of qualified immigration lawyers and provides reliable, tested and personalised immigration advice related to all areas of the law, including the following:

  • Immigration appeals
  • Overseas applications
  • Naturalisation and registration
  • EEA applications – registrations and permanent residence
  • Judicial review

Transparency around fees is another important aspect of immigration legal advice. We offer an affordable, and totally confidential, fixed-fee consultation with an experienced immigration lawyer from our team so that you can discuss your immigration needs. You will not be charged for this consultation if you go on to instruct us.

Wellers Immigration Service has notable expertise in dealing with complicated applications such as applications on discretionary grounds, applications on compassionate grounds and for those falling outside of the immigration rules. We are also committed to delivering a fair and caring service that provides support throughout the process.

Contact us today for more information on the immigration services we provide.