Immigration: choosing an immigration adviser

When might you need immigration advice

There are lots of reasons why you might need immigration advice. Examples include:-

  • applying to extend your stay in the UK
  • gaining permission to work whilst in the UK
  • being threatened with deportation.

Office of Immigration Services Commisioner (OISC)

The OISC is responsible for regulating immigration advisers by ensuring they are fit and competent and act in the best interest of their clients.

People should only use an adviser who has been registered with the OISC or an adviser with an organisation that has received an exemption from the OISC from registration, such as the Refugee Council and the Citizens Advice Bureau (up to Level 1 – see below). An adviser who is neither registered nor exempt will be committing a criminal offence. Advisers can offer three levels of regulated advice dependent on experience:-

  • Level 1: advice and assistance
  • Level 2: casework
  • Level 3: advocacy and representation.

The OISC website gives details about which level of compentency each adviser has attained, with the most complicated cases being reserved for advisers experienced in advocacy and representation. Visit their website for clear guidance about the level of experience your adviser will need.

How to find an adviser

The OISC website has two registers of regulated immigration advisers. One is a list of advisers who do not charge and the other is for advisers who charge for their services.

Citizens Advice

The Citizens Advice service offers free, confidential advice either face-to-face or by telephone, and in some cases they can arrange a home visit if need be. You can search for your local bureau on their website, or see also their Adviceguide information site.

The Refugee Councils for England, Scotland and Wales

The Refugee Councils provide free advice and information to asylum seekers who are having difficulties accessing support. They can help with the asylum process and offer an own-language telephone advice service.

Refugee Council England

Contact their helpline on 0808 808 2255 or for further information, visit their website.

Refugee Council Scotland

Contact their helpline on 0800 085 6087 or for further information, visit their website.

Refugee Council Wales

Contact their helpline on 029 2048 9800 or for further information, visit their website