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How to choose an immigration lawyer

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Choosing an Immigration lawyer is one of the most important decisions you may have to make, and simply googling ‘Immigration lawyer near me’ is not enough to ensure you instruct the best Immigration lawyers for your situation. The stakes are always high in any Immigration matter: whether it’s your opportunities to study or work, your relationships and family life, or even your personal safety at stake, this is no time to be making a rash decision. However, you may well feel confused about how to choose an Immigration lawyer. As Legal 500 recommended Immigration solicitors, our experience at OTS Solicitors is that there are a number of important questions to ask when choosing your Immigration solicitor – and we’ve decided to share those in this blog to help others who may find themselves in need of Immigration law advice and support.

How sympathetic are they to your case?

Your Immigration status is fundamental to everything – it determines whether you can live and work in the UK. If your Immigration status is unresolved or is determined in a way that means you can no longer stay in the UK, it can impact hugely on every aspect of your life, your family and relationships. Choosing an Immigration solicitor who is sympathetic to your case, who can empathise and understand what you are going through is fundamental. Most of the best Immigration lawyers in London will have dealt with cases that are similar if not identical to yours, but you need to choose someone who will understand the individual aspects of your case and champion your cause, rather than proceed as if it is ‘just another Immigration case’.

What are the charges?

In the UK, most Immigration law advice and support must be paid for. Legal aid is only available in very limited cases so an important element in your decision-making process when choosing an Immigration lawyer will be the costs and charges that will apply. Some charges will be the same whoever you choose to work with. Visa fees and court fees do not change depending on who represents you – so watch out to make sure you are not charged a premium for these things. Beyond those elements that have a fixed cost, how Immigration law firms in London will charge for their services will depend on the firm. Some charge an hourly rate, others charge a consultation fee and success rates which relate to the outcome of the matter, rather than hourly charges which apply whether your matter is resolved in your favour or not.

How trustworthy are the Immigration solicitors you are considering?

In the past, there have been a number of ‘Immigration advisers’ in the UK who were unlicensed and offered services that they were simply unqualified to deliver – whether out of a misguided sense of trying to help, or, as the more cynical might observe, out of a desire for personal gain. Taking Immigration law advice is an investment in your future, so a big part of the decision is to establish whether you can trust the Immigration law firm you are considering. Immigration solicitors will be registered with the Law Society and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. A good way to check that a firm is reputable and trustworthy is to see if they are listed in the Legal 500 – a directory of UK law firms which ranks solicitors using detailed and rigorous criteria. Of course, just because a firm isn’t listed in the Legal 500 doesn’t mean they aren’t trustworthy, but you may prefer to work with a firm that has been through this assessment.

Can they demonstrate experience – and success - in similar cases to mine?

When the stakes are so high, you need to know that you are working with a team that has experience of the kind of situation you are in – and can demonstrate a track record of success. Whether you are applying for a particular type of visa, or need advice because your visa has been refused, or perhaps you find yourself subject to Immigration control – whatever your situation, look for Immigration lawyers that have the right knowledge to help you. Check out independent review platforms, such as Google reviews, to find out what other clients have to say about the firm. It’s also worth asking to see if you know anyone who has used the same firm. Everyone’s opinion is different, but if someone you know and trust has had a good experience with a particular firm, this is a good place to start.

How do your initial interactions with the firm make you feel?

This is very subjective, but ultimately, how a particular solicitor makes you feel may be the deciding factor in the end. Things to think about are:

- How much time did they give you during your initial phone calls?

- Did they seem interested and sympathetic to your case?

- Did you feel that they were genuinely enthusiastic about helping you?

- Did they explain their charges and explain how they would work with you in terms of contact etc?

- Did they give you an idea of how long it might take to resolve your situation?

It is undoubtedly better to get help sooner rather than later if there is a query over your Immigration status, or you are considering a specific visa application. The earlier you get an experienced Immigration lawyer on board to help you, the greater the chances of successful resolution. Choosing an Immigration solicitor can feel daunting, but it’s worth taking some time to make the right decision.

OTS Solicitors are a Legal 500 Immigration law firm based in London, with many years’ experience handling every aspect of Immigration law, from business immigration matters, entrepreneur and Investor Visas, to personal Immigration matters including family and Spouse Visas, British Citizenship, Asylum, Immigration detention and bail, and Human Rights issues. To book an appointment to discuss your situation in confidence, please call us on 0203 959 9123.

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