Why should you get advice?
Why should you get advice about your asylum application?
Because if you don't you risk:
- breaking the rules without meaning to
- not using the rules in the best way to help your case
Sometimes the Home Office makes mistakes and without advice you may not spot them or know how to challenge them.
Well-meaning friends may give you advice, but the system changes often so you should always get proper legal advice.
Why should you get GOOD advice?
Because a dishonest or poor solicitor or adviser might:
- not advise you properly
- cheat you out of your money or documents
- not collect evidence that supports your case or forget to show it to the Home Office
- not bother to interview important witnesses who can back up your story
- make a bad job of filling in application forms or not fill them in at all
- represent you badly or not go to your hearing
All of these things can result in your asylum claim being turned down even if you had a strong case.
Myths and half truths about getting advice
- Beware of people who tell you 'if it's free it must be no good' or 'you only get what you pay for'. Many experienced solicitors and advisers get paid by the Legal Services Commission (LSC) to give free advice. Yet, a dishonest or poor solicitor or adviser might charge you a fortune for giving bad advice.
- Government officials, including immigration officers, might tell you that you don't need legal advice. We think anyone claiming asylum in the UK should get legal advice. The reason for this is that a solicitor/adviser knows about the law and can apply it to your case to make sure you have as good a chance as possible of making a successful claim.
The Home Office is the government department responsible for managing immigration, as well as the police and security.
The UK Border Agency
The UK Border Agency (UKBA) is a part of the Home Office. It is responsible for managing immigration to the UK, deals with asylum applications, and provides support, accommodation and financial help for asylum seekers who cannot support themselves whilst their claim is being considered.
- You may feel very suspicious of solicitors/advisers in the UK and find it difficult to believe that good ones exist because of past experiences. In the UK, solicitors/advisers who give asylum advice are not employed by the Home Office, the Border and Immigration Agency or other government departments; they are independent. Good solicitors/advisers do exist and this guide should help you find one.
- It's easy to assume that if a solicitor/adviser is from the same ethnic group as you or shares your culture or religion, they will help you more. But, this isn't always the case. Dishonest solicitors/advisers may try to use the fact of your shared background to persuade you to be their client. Some may hint that a solicitor/adviser from a different ethnic group or religion will be unhelpful and cause you to lose your case. Be wary; these are just tactics to attract you so they can make money out of you.
- Just because a solicitor/adviser tells you that you may not win your case doesn't mean they are a bad adviser. Sometimes solicitors/advisers have no choice but to tell you that your chances of success are poor if this is their honest opinion.