Is it Illegal to give Immigration Advice?

The Office of the UK immigration service Commissioner has issued guidelines to practising immigration lawyers outlining the requirements to advise EU immigrants regarding their immigration application under the “settled status scheme”. Furthermore, under the Immigration and Asylum act 1999, it is declared illegal for practitioners to give advice to EU nationals unless they are specifically and legally allowed to do so. In this article, we will see if practitioners are permitted to advise on immigration issues and if so, in what cases.

Compulsory Registration With The OISC

The new guidelines have regularized lawyers like barristers and solicitors as well as unauthorized lawyers. The Non-registered lawyers, regardless of their degrees, experience, or qualifications will have to compulsorily register with the OISC.

Compulsory Exam Required

The process of registration requires the willing candidate to pass an exam to satisfy the OISC that he can properly handle the immigration cases. If someone fails the test and is not qualified to give advice yet still gives advice can be prosecuted and penalized. The maximum penalty can be up to two years in prison and a fine.

Are New Regulations Any Good?

There has been heated debate among the legal fraternity regarding the appropriateness of the new EU settlement process. Even if most people can manage themselves, many will still need some help. There are many areas in the UK where there are no registered practitioners but experienced EU citizens. Many other communities are giving immigration services and are expected to do so by their people. Even more so, many other organizations are working voluntarily to give free advice to EU nationals but are not registered with the OISC.

Relaxations

OISC has given some relaxations as well. For Polish community groups, it is legal to produce guide books and pamphlets to support their people and spread general awareness regarding immigration. But it is still illegal to meet anyone in person to render legal advice regarding their immigration status.

Another relaxation is given in terms of consultancy with the accountant who may advise a person that rendition of full accounts is not necessary for the application but may not help with the application. He also can’t provide any assistance regarding the documents. For example, he cannot advise whether the documents are valid or complete.

Bottom Line

Is it illegal to give immigration advice? This question is not just for lawyers and scholars, but also for teachers, medical professionals, politicians, and foreign students. But unfortunately, the answer is not so simple because of the very hypothetical rules set up by the OISC.

Help groups, like churches and consumers’ cooperatives, don’t have to be licensed to provide advice on immigration laws. This is because they don’t help people with their applications; they just inform them of available programs and opportunities.

That said, it may be illegal for a community support group to advise an individual: some states have “referral laws” that require a lawyer or government official to refer an individual to a pro bono or low-cost legal service.

Also Read: Top 10 Immigration Lawyers in the UK?