This blog’s purpose is to assist persons looking for immigration advice on some of the terminology used and to provide some guidance on the main differences between solicitors and other accredited professionals.
What is an immigration solicitor?
Most people know the term ‘immigration solicitor’. This is a person regulated by the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority to give advice. It is worth noting that solicitors specialising in immigration in private practice are regulated but are not required to undertake examinations or prove a certain level of competency, the same is true for paralegals working within solicitors firms. If the firm provides advice under the government legal aid scheme, then they would have been required to undertake some examinations in order to practice in the field. This is worth at least bearing in mind when choosing an immigration solicitor or an immigration advisor.
What is an immigration advisor?
An immigration advisor is a term more commonly used for OISC accredited professionals. OISC is the acronym for Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner. This is a government department that regulates immigration advisors. All OISC accredited advisors have undertaken examinations at some level. There are OISC Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 accredited advisors as well as those with JRCM accreditation, which is the highest level.
What are the different OISC levels?
Level 1 OISC accredited professionals are able to undertake a wide variety of immigration work within the Immigration Rules. Many immigration advisors remain at this level for their entire career, as they do not take on work outside of the Immigration Rules. If an advisor wants to undertake more complex work, such as work that relates to a person that was previously removed from the UK, relies on Human Rights grounds outside of the Immigration Rules, or is an overstayer in the UK, then the advisor must be Level 2 OISC accredited to do this work. For appeal related work, such as preparing an appeal, or appearing in the Immigration Tribunal, an advisor must be accredited to Level 3 OISC. For an OISC accredited professional to undertake work at Judicial Review level, they must be accredited with Judicial Review Case Management powers.
Westkin Associates is an OISC accredited firm which specialises in immigration only and has advisors at all levels. Westkin Law is the sister firm which is regulated by the Solicitors Regulations Authority and therefore is able to do work that doesn’t only relate to immigration. This means that Westkin Law can assist with work that stems from immigration work, such as assisting with company set-up, company law disputes, employment law and other areas of immigration law, such as applications for damages to the County Court. Westkin Law has immigration solicitors as well as solicitors in other disciplines.
What are immigration barristers?
As well as immigration solicitors and immigration advisors there are immigration barristers. Immigration barristers are usually instructed by immigration advisors and immigration solicitors to assist in court work, such as representation at the Immigration Tribunals as well as preparing written work like grounds and applications for judicial review. Immigration barristers usually work with immigration solicitors and immigration advisors in presenting a case, however, there is now more scope for immigration barristers to work independently of immigration advisors and immigration solicitors. These types of barristers are known as direct access barristers and they can act alone. Different direct access barristers work in different ways, some will give advice to the migrant on how to prepare their case and will still provide a service that is limited to advocacy, others will take a more hands on role and will prepare the case for the migrant.
This, we hope, provides a helpful guide to the different terminology used to describe representation in immigration cases.
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