There are many reasons for hiring an immigration solicitor; in most cases it will be to help out with business immigration and work permits, as well as with disputes over visas. Specialist immigrant solicitors can help to facilitate a successful visa process, and can also defend you if you’re having a dispute with the UK Border Agency. In recent years, the UK have switched to a points based system for judging whether someone can claim immigrant status, which ranges from Tier 1 highly skilled immigrants to Tier 4 and 5 student and youth mobility scheme workers. Unskilled immigration is currently frozen.


If you’re a business that wants to hire someone from outside the EU, you’ll need to sponsor them to obtain a work permit; in most cases this will cover highly skilled and skilled workers under Tier 1 and 2 categories. This sponsorship is determined on whether or not you cannot find someone within the UK to take a job, and need to arrange for a work permit visa for a new employee. Solicitors can help to speed up the process of getting a sponsorship application made, and a work permit process started.

Solicitors can also advise businesses that want to set up in the UK, from self employed individuals to larger companies. In most cases, new businesses have to have enough start up capital and investment to be eligible for a work permit in the UK. Most companies will need at least £200,000 in assets, although companies that have signed an EC Association Agreement can bypass this. The work of solicitors here is to arrange for the paperwork for getting a work permit, as well as arranging for family and dependents to receive short and indefinite leave visas.


One of the key roles played by immigration solicitors is to help anyone seeking asylum, or disputing a decision by the UK Border Agency to cancel their visa and force them to leave the country. Asylum and right of appeals decisions can take a long time to process, meaning that it’s crucial that you have the right representation to take cases to a tribunal, or a judicial review or Home Office hearing.

In other cases, you may need to hire a solicitor to put together an application for a Tier 1 and 2 highly skilled visa if moving to the UK to study or work. This visa is generally dependent on your earnings and education as part of the points system, as well as whether or not you can gain stable employment and complete a Life in the UK Test to move from a temporary to an indefinite leave visa.

Advice can also be provided in the case of EU Nationals with non-EU dependents who will need to obtain permanent residence or retained residence; making sure that the paperwork is set up for spouses and children is crucial. Immigration solicitors are also able to help process Tier 4 student visas from outside the EU, which can involve getting proof from universities, colleges, and schools. Tier 5 covers Youth Mobility schemes, where people aged 18-31 from Australia, Canada, Japan, and overseas British territories are sponsored by their home countries to spend time in the UK on a fixed term basis.

In addition, immigration solicitors can be vital if you want to become a retired person of independent means within the UK; this means being over 60, with an income of over £25,000 and over – new applications are no longer being accepted for this status, but solicitors can help you to extend existing visas, or claim indefinite leave in the UK, and can help to resolve disputes over eligibility.

This post was contributed by Patrick Hegarty. Patrick has been helping a legal firm explain the processes around immigration, so everyone can understand it and now is sharing his thoughts and experiences with his community of followers.

Image by Tram Painter via Flickr

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