Find a lawyer

Why do I need a lawyer or legal adviser?

Getting a good lawyer or legal advisor is likely to improve your chances of putting in a successful application. Legal advisers can help you understand the law better but they are also practising an area of law on various cases. That means they know what little aspects help your application, and what has recently changed in Citizenship or immigration law.

Making sure you find a reliable lawyer is likely to improve your chances of making a successful citizenship application. Unfortunately there are unreliable lawyers who may charge high fees and / or make bad applications. There’s a checklist below that might help you work out how reliable your lawyer is likely to be.

If you can’t afford to pay legal fees, Kids in Need of Defense may be able to provide legal services for free. Although the Home Office application fee is likely still payable they will be able to give you some initial advice and support and connect you to a pro bono (free) lawyer so contacting them is a good first step:

the Kids in Need of Defense UK logo. If clicked it'll take you to their website.



What if I can't afford a lawyer?

The Law Centres Network has a list of Law Centres that you could speak to about your situation. Law Centres provide free advice to people who can’t afford to retain a private lawyer, but they are regulated just like a private lawyer – you should get the exact same level of professionalism from their staff as you do by paying a lawyer.

What is the difference between a legal adviser and a lawyer?

There are different levels of qualification for lawyer here in the UK. Anyone offering reliable legal advice will have an OISC (Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner) qualification, so check that any adviser you speak with has a qualification number or letter (some might publish it on their website or should have it on their stationary). Immigration advisers can get OISC qualifications to do several different levels of casework:

  • Level 1 should only do basic tasks
  • Level 2 can help you fill out the forms.
  • Level 3 only at this level do advisers have full qualifications so they can represent you as well as helping you with the case work.

Does the lawyer have a registered address?

Lawyers should have their own offices as this will guarantee the applicants’ files are kept safe, and that they have an address where they are registered.

Ordinarily, they should invite you to their office for your meeting. At the moment, most lawyers are following government guidance about social distancing and minimising in-person contact, so they will often be working from home and will meet you via phone or video call.

Does the lawyer have a UK landline phone number?

All immigration lawyers need to be registered with a UK landline. These numbers start with 01, 02, 03, (national number, usually used by companies with bases all over the country) or 0800/0500, (both free from landlines within the UK). If your lawyer will only give you a mobile number this could be a sign they aren’t a reliable, professional lawyer.

Does the lawyer give receipts for payments?

Whenever you make a payment to a lawyer they should give you a receipt. This means the lawyers are not taking the money illegally and also gives applicants proof of payment.

Does the lawyer provide a client care letter?

The lawyer should give or send the you a client care letter once they have been instructed. This is effectively an outline of the work the lawyer agrees to do, explaining the services and costs and the complaints procedure. So it should be read carefully and you should ask about anything they don’t agree with or don’t understand.

Check that a lawyer isn't suspended or prohibited from practicing

A very small number of lawyers are suspended or prohibited from practicing law. You shouldn’t instruct a lawyer who is suspended or prohibited.

The regulating authority for solicitors is the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority. You can check a lawyer is a member and isn’t suspended on their website.

The regulation authority for accredited immigration advisers is the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner. You can check an immigration adviser is accredited on their website.

The Office of the Immigration Services Commisioner also publishes a list of suspended immigration advisers.