I have been advising clients on immigration matters for over 11 years, first as an accredited immigration caseworker and later as an immigration solicitor.  In that time, I have dealt with many clients who have suffered terribly due to the actions (or inactions) of a previous immigration advisor.

Often a mistake made by an advisor might at first glance seem minor yet can have devastating consequences.

Take, for example, what to a lay person might seem like a small oversight: a visa extension application being submitted by an advisor just one day after the client’s visa expired.  However, the implications of this mistake could be severe: you would immediately become an ‘overstayer’, which is an immigration and criminal offence.

louis macwilliam - head of immigration

As for the practical consequences, for starters, you would have to immediately give up any employment.  You would also need to leave the UK (and potentially any family members) without delay.  Alternatively, you could stay in the UK to try and rectify the situation, which is likely to be an uphill battle.

During this period of ‘rectification’, which will take months or even years, you cannot take employment, you are likely to lose any right to rent accommodation, you will have to pay for NHS use, and you cannot leave the UK, not unless you want any subsequent application you made to be automatically treated as withdrawn.

Even if you eventually rectify your situation and obtain leave to remain, you may well have lost your ‘continuity of residence’ and so have to start over at the beginning of your qualifying route to indefinite leave to remain (normally a five or ten year route).

And then of course there are the costs of having to pay additional or duplicate Home Office fees, fees which are already exorbitantly high.

As immigration advisors, our primary concern is to rectify our client’s immigration case as quickly as we can.  Whilst we might shake our heads at some prior actions of an immigration advisor, as immigration specialists, our attention soon focuses on securing our client’s immigration status as quickly as possible; we learn to ‘play the hand we are dealt’.  Often, however, we should be looking beyond the main act of securing our client’s status and give consideration as to whether the client should be compensated for any previous potential negligence.

What makes a professional negligence claim in an immigration case?

You can find out more about what makes a professional negligence claim here.  However, in brief, and where it is an immigration issue, you will need to show that the immigration advisor failed in their duty of care towards you.

This is done by establishing that the advisor failed to meet the standards of a reasonably competent immigration specialist.  Importantly, you will also need to show that you suffered loss and that this loss was caused by your immigration advisor.

Common types of mistakes

Immigration is such a highly politicised area that the law and rules around procedure is in a state of near constant change.  Immigration advisors nonetheless have a professional duty to keep abreast of these developments.

Often mistakes can happen due to tasks being delegated to junior staff who are not sufficiently trained or supervised.  Some immigration advisors might be overworked or, in extreme cases, may simply not take much care in their work.

Whatever the reason, common mistakes made by immigration advisors include:

  • Failing to submit an extension application by the visa expiry date
  • Incorrectly applying the law or advising on an inappropriate immigration route
  • Failing to provide important supporting evidence
  • Failing to advise on appropriate remedies following a refusal, such as administrative review, appeal or judicial review

Examples of financial loss

Some of the most common reasons for a client suffering financial loss are:

  • Loss of earnings due to not having immigration status/a right to work
  • The cost of duplicate/unnecessary Home Office fees and immigration advice
  • Travel costs /accommodation
  • Costs incurred by family members

For immigration advisors – do you think your client previously received bad advice?

If you are an immigration advisor and you think that your client might have previously received negligent immigration advice, then please get in touch with us.

You know your client’s case inside-out we will therefore always value your view on why a previous advisor might have been negligent.  You will need your client’s consent before contacting us.

You might have some sympathy for an advisor who has made a mistake.  After all, immigration work is a complex and often a less glamorous, less well-remunerated area of law.  However, we all make mistakes, and this is, after all, why immigration firms are required to have professional indemnity insurance.

Clients will often struggle to obtain their just compensation without some signposting from their current immigration advisor.

How we can help

Personally speaking, keeping on top of immigration law is more than a full-time job and I struggle to see how a professional negligence solicitor can keep on top of this fast area of law (along with having to keep abreast of the law covering any other professional sector).

A fair number of law firms offer specialist services in professional negligence.  Other firms specialise in immigration law.  At Truth Legal, however, we have both a dedicated professional negligence and an immigration team.

In analysing and building your professional negligence claim, our professional negligence solicitors can draw on the technical expertise of the Immigration department.  We believe our complementary specialisms in these areas means we can bring an unrivalled service.

At Truth Legal we offer a range of funding options. Often, we can conduct your case on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis.  Occasionally we might need to charge you an initial fixed fee in order to establish whether your case is suitable for ‘no win, no fee’.

If you would like to discuss a possible negligence claim in an immigration matter, contact us today.

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Catherine Reynolds
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