What is a lawyer and why do you need one? In your immigration or asylum application, the most important thing you need is legal representation or advice.

You may hear different words used for your asylum or immigration lawyer. You may hear the term legal representive, immigration advisor, lawyer, solicitor, caseworker or barrister.

The process for making a visa application, an asylum claim or other kind of immigration or human rights application is very complicated. It is best to get expert advice on your application or legal case from a lawyer if you can. If you cannot afford to pay for a lawyer, you may be able to get legal advice and representation for free. This is called “legal aid” advice.

In the UK, the word lawyer can be used for anyone qualified to give legal advice. This includes caseworkers, solicitors and barristers. You may also hear people use the phrase “legal representative” or “immigration advisor” to describe the person giving you legal advice about your asylum, immigration or human rights case.

The lawyer you will have most contact with may be a caseworker who has qualified under the body that regulates immigration legal advice; or a lawyer who has formally qualified as a “solicitor”. Many people use the word “solicitor” to refer to any kind of lawyer, even if they are not formally qualified as such. In immigration/asylum cases, it is normally a different kind of lawyer called a “barrister” who will represent you in court. Barristers are also called “counsel”. In Scotland, barristers are called “advocates”.

See the information below to find a lawyer near you.

Finding a lawyer

Local asylum and migrant support groups can often provide information about local lawyers/solicitors. If you are not already in touch with a support group, search on google for “asylum support group” or “migrant support group” plus the name of where you are living.

You can also just search on google for lawyers who provide asylum and immigration advice – check if they provide free legal aid advice if you are not able to pay (see paragraph below).

If you are in England or Wales, you can contact Civil Legal Advice by telephone. An advisor can assess whether you are eligible for legal aid (free legal advice) and then find local asylum/immigration lawyers near you. You can contact them on 0345 345 4 345 between 09:00 and 20:00 Monday to Friday; and 09:00 and 12:30 on Saturdays.

You can use the directories below to search for legal help in your area. Click on the links and follow the instructions about filling in your geographic location, the area of law you need help with etc. The information should also show if the lawyer provides “legal aid” advice – free advice that is funded by the government. See our Lawyers and Legal Advice page for more information on this.

Immigration Law Practitioners Association (ILPA)

ILPA is an association of lawyers specialising in immigration and nationality law. You can search their online directory here.

Community Legal advice (England and Wales)

The Community Legal Advice publishes a list of legal representatives in England and Wales. Telephone: 0845 345 4345 or visit the website

The Law Society
– England and Wales

You can search the Law Society directory to find a solicitor in England or Wales. Check the website and search under ‘immigration’; or phone 0870 606 2555.

OISC – Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner

The OISC regulates immigration advisers operating in the UK, ensuring that they are fit and competent and acting in their client’s best interests. You can search for an immigration adviser on their website

Asylum Aid

Asylum Aid offers free, confidential and independent legal advice and representation. The advice line offers free one-off legal advice.
The Advice Line operates on Mondays 2.00 pm – 4:30pm and Thursdays 10.00 am – 12:30pm. Asylum Aid Advice Line: 0207 354 9264

Legal advice in Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland Legal Services Commission publishes a list of legal representatives in Northern Ireland, visit www.nilsc.org.uk

The Law Society – Scotland

The Law Society of Scotland has a register of solicitors. Phone 0131 226 7411, or Visit their website, choose your city, choose area of work “immigration and asylum” and click “find”.

Scottish Refugee Council

has a list of solicitors in Glasgow and Edinburgh on its website here

Bail for Immigration Detainees

(Bail applications only)
Bail for Immigration Detainees is an independent charity that exists to challenge immigration detention in the UK, and Makes free applications to secure asylum seekers and migrants release from detention. www.biduk.org