PREPARE YOUR APPLICATION

OISC registration is a twin-track process. Both your ORGANISATION and its ADVISORS need to get registered.

James explains the OISC process

"Hi folks! We are going to talk about immigration advice and registering with the OISC."

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A Step-By-Step Guide to OISC Registration

Find out what steps are advised for OISC registration for managers and students.

Download the PDF

organisation REGISTRation

OISC documentation

Before applying for Office of the Immigration Service Commissioner (OISC) registration you’ll need to read these:

  • The Code of Standards 2016 should be read by all owners and advisers as well as the person preparing the application. It tells you how the organisation and its advisers are expected to behave.
  • The Guidance on Competence explains what advice giving is permitted at each level. This will help you to decide which level your organisation needs to be registered.
  • The Application for registration guidance explains how to apply for organisation and adviser registration.
  • There are some model documents you can download to help you with your application.

The OISC forms can seem daunting. Don't be deterred! The OISC are very supportive of the charity sector. They actively want to increase the number of charity sector advisers and the provision of free immigration advice. They can be flexible, particularly around experience, if you can reassure them of the steps you are taking to protect your clients.

Registration criteria

At the point of application your organisation will need:

  • Owners (usually the Chief Executive and Trustees), all of whom must be (1) fit to be owners (see Guidance on the fitness of owners) and (2) available to sign your organisation’s application form
  • A designated person responsible for liaising with the OISC
  • Advisers who are (1) British Citizens, EEA nationals or have permission to work and at least 18 months leave to remain at the time of application, (2) fit to be advisers (see Guidance on the fitness of immigration advisers) and (3) competent to give advice at the level at which the organisation wants to give advice (see Guidance on competence: 2017). Competency is assessed at their assessment
  • Unique email addresses for all advisers
  • Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks issued within the last six months for all advisers
  • Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII) or a quote for PII
  • A business plan
  • Templates for client care letters and client closure letters
  • A complaints procedure

Registration costs

Application for OISC registration is free for non fee-charging organisations.

There are other investments your organisation will need to make:

  • Manager time to prepare the organisation’s application
  • Staff time to prepare their adviser application
  • Professional Indemnity Insurance
  • DBS check fees, where staff do not have one issued within the last six months
  • Ongoing ‘Continuing Professional Development’ (CPD) requirements beyond the scope of FIAP’s support
  • Staff time to sit training, revise and sit assessments
  • Travel costs associated assessment attendance

Level 1 forms

The Application for registration with the OISC form is for unregistered organisations applying to become registered. It must be accompanied by at least one new adviser application.

The New adviser application and competence statement form is for new advisers applying to become registered for the first time, or following a break in registration of 6 months or more. This may be at the same time as the organisation is registering, or after the organisation has registered. It must be done through an organisation.

Level 2 forms

In order to register in the Level 2 Immigration category, both organisation and adviser will need to already be registered in the Level 1 Immigration Category or applying for registration in that category. To raise your level to the Level 2 Immigration you will need to complete the 'Registered organisation raising levels: application form ' and the 'Adviser raising levels competence statement'.

You can jump to the Level 2 Asylum and Protection Category, without first being registered in the Level 1 Asylum and Protection Category. If you are jumping to Level 2 in this category you simply need to complete the Organisation registration form and the new Adviser competence statement. If you are already registered at Level 1 in this category, you need to complete the raising levels application forms.

Registration renewal

OISC registration lasts 12 months. It must be renewed annually through an Application for continued registration. The form is straightforward, but must list all current owners and all advisers. We recommend applying three months before registration is due to expire.

Advisor REGISTRATION

Introduction

Once your organisation has been accepted onto the Frontline Immigration Advice Project (FIAP) programme we can help you get trained and ready to sit the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) Level One (Immigration) assessment (or a Level Two assessment if that’s what you need).

Passing an OISC assessment takes commitment, support from your organisation and a willingness to study and revise before sitting a 2.5hr exam in Manchester or London.

Your organisation also needs to be committed. If it is not yet registered or wants to increase its registration level then it must prepare registration documents and submit them to the OISC at the same time as you submit your ‘New Adviser’ application. Then, if you pass the assessment both you and your organisation become registered at that level.

Note: Although no assessment is required for Level One (Asylum and Protection) the rest of the registration process is the same as Level One (Immigration).

Eligibility criteria

To apply for registration you must:

  • Be working or volunteering for an organisation that is applying for registration, or is already registered.
  • Have some advice-giving experience (not necessarily legal advice)
  • Have a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check issued a minimum of six months before your date of application

In addition, if you are not a British Citizen or an EEA national, you will need:

  • Permission to work in the UK, and
  • 18 months left before your current leave to remain expires

The OISC may waive this requirement where they consider it appropriate.

Some people who have already qualified under the Law Society’s ‘Immigration and Asylum Accreditation Scheme’ (IAAS) may not need to sit an assessment.

OISC levels overview

What work can I do once registered?

This depends on your registration. There are three levels and two categories.

Level One (Asylum & Protection)

Allows a very small amount of advice work. No assessment required.

Level One (Immigration)

Allows you to make straightforward immigration applications for regular migrants and people outside the UK.

Level Two (Asylum and Protection)

Permits you to work on initial asylum applications and further submissions or fresh claims up until a decision is received and the applicant needs to appeal or apply for judicial review. It also allows you to work on applications for refugee family reunion.

Level Two (Immigration)

Permits you to work on all kinds of immigration applications up until the point when an appeal may be necessary.

Level Three in either category

Permits you to work on appeals to the First-tier Tribunal and Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber.)

Judicial review applications require a solicitor and cannot be done under OISC regulation.

The Guidance on Competence provides more detail on what work can be done at each level.

Are there any restrictions on how I work?

You are only permitted to give immigration advice on behalf of an organisation you are registered with.

However, you can be registered with more than one organisation at the same time, as long as the organisations are registered.

How to register

You must complete a New Adviser application and competence statement form.

This must be accompanied by:

  • A DBS check issued within the previous six months
  • Proof of your right to work in the UK.

If you do not have a recent DBS check then your organisation can submit a DBS application form and fee to the OISC with your application. The OISC will begin processing your application while the DBS check is pending. It’s quicker.

How to become a regulated immigration adviser.

How to complete and submit a DBS application to the OISC.

When to apply for level 1

We recommend you apply for level 1 OISC registration as soon as possible after training, while it’s content is still fresh and you have it’s momentum behind you.

OISC assessments usually take place at the end of the month. We recommend submitting no sooner than 5 weeks before your preferred assessment date. The OISC will then usually offer you that date, giving you five weeks to revise.

Should you fail the assessment the OISC will invite you to sit the next one. As Level One assessments happen monthly you may only get 1-2 weeks notice of this.

If you do not pass the second time around your application will be refused and you will need to wait six months before re-applying.

Assessment dates and locations.

Raising to level 2 and above

You must be registered at Level One in both ‘Immigration’ and ‘Asylum and Protection’ categories before proceeding to Level Two.

Submit an Adviser Raising Levels Competence Statement form.

Sometimes it is possible to sit a Level One assessment and a Level Two assessment on the same day. You’ll need to already have your other Level One to do this. You’ll also need to ask the OISC for permission first. They will want to know more about your knowledge and previous experience before agreeing.

Registering for level 2 & 3

At Level Two or Three, if you apply to register in both categories, you will only be required to sit one assessment paper. However you will not know which paper until you enter the assessment room. If you fail that paper, you will not be registered in either category.

When to apply for level 2 or 3

Level Two and Level Three assessments are held every three months, usually towards the end of February, May, August and November.

It’s usually best to time your application at least five weeks before an assessment. That allows you time to revise well. If you leave it too late the assessment may be full.

No resits are allowed at levels Two and Three. The OISC normally expects you to wait six months before re-applying.

In general, if you fail to attend assessment(s) without a reasonable explanation, your application will be rejected.

Transferring to another organisation

You can transfer adviser registration to another organisation within six months of leaving your old organisation. The new organisation must inform OISC that you are working for them.

If more than six months have passed then the OISC will require a new DBS check and an assessment resit.

Registered advisers who have left their job sometimes volunteer with registered organisations as a means of retaining registration for longer than six months.

Assessment process details

For more detailed information on the assessment process, you can find it at OISC competence assessments.