Immigration lawyers act for private individuals or companies regarding immigration and nationality issues. Wide-ranging legal knowledge is required for this complex field of law, particularly in areas such as human rights, social welfare, employment and mental health.
What does an immigration lawyer do?
Immigration lawyers act for clients making applications to the Home Office for permanent residence in the UK, they appeal Home Office decisions or act for clients who have residency and are seeking to bring their families into the country.
Immigration lawyers advise those fleeing from unstable political regimes, who arrive in the UK from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and are seeking asylum.
What skills are required?
This is a hugely responsible area of law, one in which your actions can literally make or break someone’s life; therefore, total commitment is essential.
You will need an in-depth knowledge of the law, the immigration system and the Home Office, as well as being able to work under pressure to strict deadlines. An interest in human rights, international and domestic politics will give you the wider background to your clients’ situations.
You should also have a basic interest in people, a desire to help restore or maintain their rights and the ability to respect and respond to diversity of culture, race and religion. You will also need to be robust in the face of suffering and distress.
Good communication and advocacy skills are essential both with your client and when representing your client at Immigration Tribunals for example.
How to get into immigration law?
Studying law undergraduate degree and then specialising in immigration law would help boost the expertise and give an advantage in the field. If you studied a non-law undergraduate degree, you need to take a Master of Arts (MA Law) or Postgraduate Diploma in Law (PGDL) and then specialise in immigration law.
Gaining immigration law work experience
To gain hands-on experience in the legal field in immigration law-related work, you might find such opportunities through pro bono activities, internships and legal advice centres. Our employability service can help you find new opportunities to get practical experience.
What is the salary of an immigration lawyer in the UK?
A newly qualified immigration lawyer in a firm outside of the city or smaller practice may expect to earn around £20,000 to £35,000. According to Payscale.com, an average immigration solicitor salary in London is anything from £40,000 to £65,000 based on five years’ experience. For those with over ten years experience, earnings can range from £42,000 to £120,000 based in London, and bigger cities will often earn more.
UK Government – Information on visas and immigration.