The UK Border Agency (UKBA) usually puts their proposed application forms before a user group for comments and criticism, and this helps assure that the application is accessible and easy to understand. So in most cases, specifically those where the application is straight-forward and within-the-rules, an adviser is not usually necessary.
If an applicant is seeking a concession, however, it is generally a prudent measure to arrange a consultation with an adviser. There are also within-the-rules applications which are complex or require some delicacy by way of explanation where it would be appropriate to get an adviser involved. Certainly if an appeal or tribunal is at hand, then representation is definitely needed. And finally, some people may need some help assembling the appropriate evidence, and an adviser is useful for this also.
But generally speaking, the overwhelming number of applicants and their sponsors are straight-forward and within the rules, and an adviser would not be necessary.
If you need assistance with an immigration issue, or if you believe your circumstances are unusual in some way, you can go to a solicitor or adviser and ask for a consultation. This is usually a brief meeting to go over your case and to get a preliminary assessment of its strengths and weaknesses. If the solicitor or adviser suggests that you would be better off with assistance, they will provide you with a client care letter which lists their fees and the services they will provide to you.
If you need help, but are unable to afford the services of a solicitor, you may be able to ask the Citizen's Advice Bureau (CAB) in your community for help. These bureaux are registered charities and are staffed by trained volunteers. Most CABs have a certification to provide immigration advice up to initial advice, and they maintain a referral list if more advanced advice is needed. Some CABs even operate internet chat rooms and give assistance online! To locate a CAB in your community, you can use their search facility at "Get Advice".
Another resource that can provide free assistance with immigration problems is the Law Centres Federation. Law Centres are funded by grants and are permitted to work with people who live within a pre-defined area. To locate a Law Centre in your community, you can use their search facility at Find a Law Centre
The Coventry Law Centre provides free telephone advice for people with immigration problems.
Before meeting an adviser (or telephoning for assistance), Transpondia recommends a few preliminary steps...
If you are going to see a fee-earning specialist for a consultation, we recommend that you spend a moment to prepare and to gather all the relevant materials first. Doing so may save you some money. Here is an example of what to prepare if you are seeking assistance for a spouse visa...
There are no advisers or solicitors who can guarantee success because of a special 'connection' they have with someone inside the UK government or within a particular consulate abroad. History tells us that when these situations existed, they were very short-lived and brought needless suffering to everyone involved. Additionally, there are no advisers or solicitors who can secure a visa that you do not qualify for. If you need an adviser and are outside of the UK, you can contact the Law Society and locate an accredited correspondent in your country.
To our readers in Southeast Asia, Transpondia is aware that there are travel agents, estate agents, notaries, and so forth who offer immigration services and profess to have expertise about matters arising under UK immigration law. In many cases these 'advisers' are simply reading what is publically available on the UKvisas web site and charging you money for it.
To our American readers, the requirements for an Ancestry Visa are very straight-forward, chiefly a grandparent who was born in the UK and the applicant is a citizen of a Commonwealth country. Services that offer to provide an exhaustive search of your family tree to see if you qualify for an Ancestry Visa are misleading. It is only a grandparent who was born in the UK, and more distant relatives (i.e., those farther up your family tree) will not help you qualify. The Ancestry Visa is not available to United States citizens unless they hold dual nationality with a Commonwealth country, and money spent in this endeavor without a Commonwealth passport will be wasted.
And finally, if you are offered a contract that is not in your native language, insist that the contract be provided in both languages.
To follow up on this information, check our Internet Resources page...
Reviewed 9 May 2012