Find a lawyer

Making sure you find a reliable lawyer is likely to improve your chances of making a successful citizenship application. Unfortunately there are unreliable lawyers and loan sharks 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, one of these charities or law centres may be able to provide legal services for free. Although the Home Office application fee is likely still payable they may be able to give you some initial advice and support so contacting them is a good first step:

Coram Children's Legal Centre    Coventry Law Centre   Praxis  The Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens

 

Why do I need legal adviser/lawyer?

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.

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.

Do meetings happen in the lawyer’s office?

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. They should invite you to their office for your meetings.

Does the lawyer have a landline number?

All immigration lawyers need to be registered with a UK landline. These numbers start with 01, (any area of the UK outside London), 02, (London), 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 the lawyer is not prohibited or suspended

The regulating authority for solicitors is the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority. The regulation authority for accredited immigration advisers is the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner, which publishes a list of suspended immigration advisers.