Immigration lawyers up and down the UK are right now working harder than ever to deal with an incredible influx of visa applicants from all over the world. With each passing year, more people than ever before set their sights on visa, sponsor licences in London and various other ways of entering the UK legally – many of whom are 100% dependant on the help and advice offered by immigration experts.
However, while the UK’s contingency of immigration lawyers has never been larger or more collectively capable, there are others working in the industry with far less to offer their clients. Quite simply, there’s a very big difference between an immigration lawyer and an immigration agent – the biggest of all being that the latter may have no formal training or qualifications whatsoever.
Does it really make a difference to the end result? Well, the simple answer is that it might – given the importance of immigration and visa applications however, ‘might’ is a word that should be stricken from the record. Technically anyone with a computer and an Internet connection can set up and start charging for immigration advice, though this of course doesn’t mean they’re in any way qualified to be doing so.
All of which leads to a clear conundrum – what’s the best of deciphering which of the two you’re dealing with in order to ideally avoid those that aren’t likely to help your case?
1 – Careful Use of Language
Well, first of all it may be fully legal for immigration agents to operate in any way they see fit, but one thing they cannot do is claim to be lawyers…or in any way legally qualified. According to experts, when you come across a bona-fide immigration lawyer with all the qualifications in the world, chances are they won’t be in a hurry to keep it a secret from you. By contrast, when you’re dealing with an agent that would prefer to dupe you into doing business with them, they’ll carefully skirt around the issue of legal qualifications without ever directly claiming to be lawyers. And in the cases of those that do go ahead and lie, there are other ways and means to work out what’s what.
2 – Qualifications and Certification
For example, lawyers tend to show off their qualifications and certificates as badges of honour, in order to show their prospective clients just how capable they are. Everyone knows that qualifications are not the be all and end all in law, but they are nonetheless a critical box to tick. After all, without the relevant qualifications, you cannot call yourself a lawyer. As such, you might want to look for evidence of the group’s qualifications before making a final decision and also any evidence of their membership of any elite boards or recognised organisations. If you cannot find any evidence of qualifications at all, chances are you can work out why this is the case.
3 – Bewildering Bargains
There’s nothing more tempting than a great deal when it comes to seeking these kinds of premium rate professional services. Unfortunately, legal advice and representation is the kind of thing that doesn’t come cheap and generally speaking delivers results in accordance with expenses. It’s not to say that you cannot get great help and advice without spending a fortune, but if and when you find yourself staring down the barrel of a deal that’s too good to be true, chances are it is. There’s an industry average rate you should be looking to pay in accordance with the help you need – anything massively under this should set alarm bells ringing.
4 – All-Inclusive Packages
It sounds bizarre, but there are still so many legal agencies who claim to offer something of a one-size-fits-all package for visa applicants where a single set low price is paid and the same all-inclusive service offered to all clients across the board. Common sense should tell anyone however that this is an impossible promise to fulfil for the simple reason that every single visa application and every applicant across the board is 100% unique. How can one-size-fits-all service packages work when the outcome may be different in every instance? The answer is they can’t, which is why they should and must be avoided.
5 – Zero Evidence of Performance
Last up, any lawyer with a proud track record will have a small arsenal of case studies and feedback ready to share with new and prospective clients. More often than not this will be published via their website, but if not it must be requested. If there’s none to be found, you might want to look for help elsewhere.