Immigration and Asylum Law
Immigration lawyers act for private individuals, or for companies, with regard to immigration and nationality issues. This is a complex field, with wide-ranging legal knowledge required: for example, in the areas of human rights, social welfare, employment, and mental health, to name but a few.
What does this type of lawyer do?
Immigration lawyers act for clients making applications for permanent residence in the UK to the Home Office; appealing Home Office decisions where residency has been denied; or acting for clients who have residency themselves, who are seeking to bring their families into the UK.
They may also be involved in advising those fleeing from unstable political regimes, who arrive in the UK from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) seeking asylum.
Immigration lawyers are also employed by companies seeking immigration status for their employees; for example, checking that prospective employees have the right to work in the UK.
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, so total commitment is essential.
In addition, you will also need an in-depth knowledge both 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, and 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, for example, at Immigration Tribunals.
The government of the day will have a significant impact on this area of law, so you must follow developments carefully as this is an area of law that is constantly changing.
In the current climate, businesses claim to be struggling to recruit the necessary workers and in the commercial sector your job will be to assist them to navigate the complex immigration rules to ensure, by recruiting overseas, they do not break the law. If you work in the area of asylum and immigration, then not only are there huge pressures on the system and little funding, but you will have to deal with the charged political atmosphere too.
What's it like in practice
For further information look at:
- Lawcareers.net: http://www.lawcareers.net
- The Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association (ILPA) is a very useful site: http://iasservices.org.uk
- UK Visas and Immigration: