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Part 1: Understanding Regulation

Why Immigration Advice?

Lack of immigration status is a barrier to:

Why Immigration Advice?

Lack of immigration status is a barrier to:

  • Working
  • Finding accommodation
  • Studying
  • Opening bank accounts
  • Accessing healthcare
  • Driving
  • Living
  • Contributing
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What is OISC?

  • The Office of the Immigration Service Commissioner
  • Created by the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • Remit: to protect migrants, by:
  • Regulating some immigration advisers
  • Overseeing other regulators (for solicitors, barristers, etc.)
  • Prosecuting unregulated immigration advice
  • Funds come from a Home Office grant, but they are independent

We can find a lot of common cause with the OISC. We should not be afraid of them!

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What does OISC regulate?

"Immigration Advice" and "Immigration Services"

Immigration advice is:

  • Advice which relates to a particular individual
  • And is on a relevant matter

Immigration services are:

  • Representation about an individual (i.e letters, phone calls, etc.)
  • On a relevant matter
  • To a court or government department
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What are relevant matters?

Relevant Matters

  • Asylum Claims
  • Immigration Applications
  • Applications for Citizenship
  • Unlawful Entry
  • Immigration Bail
  • Deportation and Removal
  • Appeals & JR's about the above

(see model documents for help!)

Not Relevant Matters

  • Asylum support*
  • Housing*
  • Benefits Eligibility*
  • Family Law*
  • Employment*

*But can sometimes be difficult to talk about without talking about a relevant matter as well

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How does OISC regulate?

  • It regulates organisations (not individuals)
  • It must also regulate advisers within organisations
  • You can't have one without the other! Usually*
  • A regulated adviser is only regulated to give advice on behalf of the organisation (but can be regulated through more than one organisation)
  • There is an exemption for CABs at Level 1 only

*Maybe for organisations employing solicitors or barristers

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What are the Levels and Categories?

Level 1

  • Immigration (immigration and nationality applications)
  • Asylum & Protection (no assessment: peripheral stuff only!)
  • EUSS (no assessment: straightforward EUSS applications)

Level 2

  • Immigration (complex/human rights-based application and work with irregular migrants)
  • Asylum & Protection (asylum claims, settlement, fresh claims, family reunion)

Level 3

  • Immigration and/or Asylum & Protection (appeals and bail)
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What is the CAB exemption?

  • All CAB's are automatically registered at Level 1
  • Their advisers do not need to register or pass assessments
  • But they must apply in the usual way to do Level 2 or higher work
  • Trust is key: the OISC trusts CABs to act responsibly

Pros: Fewer barriers to setting up or expanding at Level 1 service - just need effective training and supervision, no applications or assessments required

Cons: Experienced Level 1 advisers have no 'registration' that they can carry with them when they leave - they must do the assessments at that point

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PART 2: Getting regulated

How should organisations prepare?

  • CEO and trusts must read Code of Standards Guidance on Competence
  • Assess the local needs- what problems do local people have?
  • Identify short and long term goals for meeting needs- be realistic and look for partnerships and referral pathways!
  • Consider casework practices (file keeping, etc.) and professional indemnity
  • Identify who to train/recruit (but don't bank on being able to train/recruit OISC advisers easily!)
  • Have a plan B!
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How should advisers prepare?

  • Read the Code of Standards and Guidance on Competence
  • Start reading immigration blogs and news sites (e.g. Free Movement and EIN)
  • Attend training (Our courses are typically 5 days -other trainers do shorter courses, but these are often geared towards the private sector)
  • Make time to study (minimum 2 days-longer is likely to be needed)
  • Make contacts with other trainees/form study groups internally or externally
  • Strike while the irons hot! Most people who are going to get registered do so within the first 6 months. Around 70% of people never get registered.
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Time it Right...

Organisations and advisers need to be-working towards getting regulated at the-same time!

How do you apply to the OISC?


  • Applications for Registration
  • Professional Indemnity Quote
  • Business Plan
  • Complaints Procedure
  • Client Care Letter (template)
  • Client Closure Letter (template)
  • Policies

(see model documents for help!)


Submit both together!
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A model that works...

  • Find someone with casework and managerial responsibility to act as a lead in the bid for registration.
  • The lead should:
  • Attend the training with other staff/volunteers
  • Organise regular group study sessions
  • Prepare the organisations applications for registration
  • Arrange for all staff to apply together and work towards the same assessment date
  • Better outcomes: most or all trainees become registered, e.g. RSD, Entraide, Access, Barnardo's NI
  • Contrast: Caseworkers studying alone have a much harder challenge!
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