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Immigration Applications– What do we do?
Immigration applications are just about filling out forms. No?
It might surprise readers to know that most of the work that solicitors do, in all areas of law, starts off with a form of some sort. Court forms, claim forms, search forms and ancillary relief forms to name just a few are all in constant use in all solicitors firms.
In immigration, before anything can be done, the correct type of application needs to be decided on before a form is selected. In straightforward cases this is relatively easy. But what about when the client is illegal, has a long term girlfriend who is also illegal and a child of seven born in the U.K. suddenly the question of which type of application and which form is much more complicated. Then comes the issue of whose application to make first!
Once we know which application we are making, we request a tailored list of documents from the client. Many failed applications meet their demise through poor document choices, so this is an integral part of our job. Once we have all of the documents we can draft the form and then move on to the legal representations.
There are many reasons why legal representations are necessary. Firstly, it is to remind the immigration officer of the law and why the client’s application is within the law. Secondly, it is to explain the background to the application and thirdly it is to deal with any problems such as illegality, failed previous applications and finally matters such as offences and good character problems. Legal representations along with the document list are the most important part of the job for immigration solicitors and their importance should never be underestimated.
Legal representations tend to run to four pages in a straightforward case and can run to upwards of ten in complex cases. They need to be expertly drafted and attention to detail is key. There is often a misconception that legal representations are a ‘cover letter.’ This is not the case. Within those pages are the only real chance to ‘speak’ to the immigration officer; so failure to draft them correctly is a real lost opportunity. We use the immigration rules, UKBA guidance and case law to really hammer the application home. Following the drafting of the form and the legal representations we then bundle the documents into an indexed package for the UKBA to use to make their decision.
So, are immigration applications just about filling out forms? As you can see, the answer is ‘no!’