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.  In the UK, the term lawyer can be used for anyone qualified to give legal advice, which could include a caseworker, solicitor or barrister.

Your lawyer may be a caseworker. They will not necessarily have qualified as a solicitor, but will have qualified as an immigration caseworker under the OISC regulations (that regulate immigration legal advice) and so are permitted to give legal advice on asylum, immigration and relevant areas of human rights law.

A solicitor is a lawyer who traditionally deals with any legal matter including conducting proceedings in court. In immigration/asylum cases, it is normally a barrister who will take a case to the higher courts, or who will represent you in court in the case of a judicial review.

Barristers are specialist legal advisers and court room advocates. In England and Wales, you may be represented by a barrister at the immigration tribunal, and if your case goes to the higher courts, it will usually be a barrister speaking in court in support of your case. In Scotland, the lawyer who represents you at higher courts is called an advocate.

Read more about your legal case

Finding a lawyer

Use these databases to search for legal help in your area.

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