Immigration advisers are extremely beneficial because they can assist you in completing the correct UK Visa application forms, offer accurate advice and keep you up-to-date on any rule changes affecting you. Depending on their level, some advisers are even able to represent you in person at an immigration tribunal.
Applying for a visa under any circumstance can prove to be a nerve-wracking, long-winded process, particularly where there is a significant amount of paperwork involved. Hiring the right immigration adviser or consultant can, however, relieve most of the stress and often means the difference between a successful application and one which is refused.
Read more to understand several crucial factors to take into consideration when choosing an immigration consultant to guide you through the visa process.
Choosing an Immigration Consultant
The most important aspect when choosing an immigration consultant is whether they have the correct certifications or regulatory memberships to be able to offer you advice.
In the UK, it is a criminal offence for a person or business to provide immigration advice without being registered by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) or the Law Society. As such, before seeking guidance from anybody, check the UK’s official Register of Regulated Immigration Advisers. If they are not on this list, then do not hire them.
You can also refer to the official list of prohibited or suspended immigration advisers for further peace of mind.
Always be cautious of any person or business who is unwilling to verify their licences and accreditations with you. Unfortunately, there are many dishonest people out there who are unqualified to give advice, and hiring them can seriously harm your visa application.
Expertise in a particular visa type
For visa cases, it is highly recommended that you select someone who specialises in immigration law, rather than a general solicitor. Due to the increasingly volatile and changing nature of immigration legislation, it is important to work with somebody who understands this area of the law inside-out.
Furthermore, there are many consultants that have expertise in particular types of visas, such as UK Spouse Visas or Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). If you are applying for a visa which is complex and requires great attention to detail, like those above, then it is certainly worthwhile to pursue a consultant with experience in successfully obtaining such visas for clients in the past.
Once you have shortlisted several consultants, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone (or visit them in-person) to ask them some initial questions. For instance, how many people in similar situations to you have they helped obtain visas for? What is their visa application success rate?
Such questions will enable you to determine whether the adviser’s experience level can appropriately meet your expectations.
Years in business
Another good starting point is to check how long the firm has been around for. If they are long-established, then that could offer an indication of how experienced they are.
If a firm is brand new, there is no way for you to evaluate past performance or receive referrals from previous clients. That is not to say that all new immigration consultants are unworthy – everybody must start somewhere – but it is a point worth bearing in mind when narrowing down your search.
Recommendations from past clients
As with any service provider, carrying out research beforehand to find out whether other people recommend the company or individual in question, is wise. Speak to friends or colleagues who have used an immigration consultant, or look online at reviews such as trustpilot.co.uk to check for recommendations. You might be able to find people who have been in a similar situation as yourself and talking to them about their experience could assist you in your search for an adviser.
Additionally, high-quality immigration consultants will be happy to provide you with past client referrals so that you can decide whether their professionalism, communication and costs are acceptable.
Communication is key when making a visa application, so it is important to hire an immigration consultant who you trust, feel comfortable talking to, and who sympathises with and understands your needs.
You must also be able to get in contact with the adviser promptly when you need to. Of course, immigration consultants tend to be quite busy, but they should not be so busy that it could compromise your application.
Be wary of promises
UK immigration law is extremely complicated, and every applicant has a unique set of circumstances which may impact their chances of success. As such, avoid any individual or firm that offers guaranteed success on an application’s outcome. The truth is, no result can be guaranteed by anyone – the consultant is simply there to help you fill out all essential paperwork properly and offer the best advice they can.
Remember, every visa application is different and has its own complexities, which means that what has been successful for one client may not necessarily transfer to you. Your immigration consultant should, therefore, handle your application on an individual basis, taking the time to review your documents and understand your personal circumstances, history and needs.
A large number of immigration consultants offer a free initial consultation whereby they can determine from the outset whether you are eligible for a specific visa type. They can also establish if they are the right consultant to be able to handle your case effectively, or if it would be more beneficial for you to seek alternative advice.
If the consultant can work with you on your application, they should be upfront about their fees and services from the very beginning. In an initial meeting, a qualified adviser will be able to estimate costs and the actions required for your application.
A clear, itemised list of broken down fees, rather than just a single costing, is how you can distinguish between a quality immigration adviser and a dubious one.
Once you hire an adviser, they are required to immediately provide you with a letter which states the work they will do for you, how much you are going to be charged, and how you will pay them.
UK visas do not come cheap, but hiring the right UK Visa Expert to take care of your application can save you a significant amount of time and money overall, particularly in the case of complex visas which require the accurate completion of long, detailed documents.
Working with someone who is qualified and, above all, knowledgeable in your particular visa area, can help prevent the problems which often occur when people do not seek expert advice.