Where to get support with immigration problems

The injustices of our existing system of borders and immigration controls can have a direct, sometimes devastating, impact on people’s lives. As a result of Global Justice Now’s campaigning on migration, people sometimes turn to us for help with their individual situation – such as advice on visa problems, how to access housing or employment, or one of the huge range of other problems that migrants can face in the UK. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide this kind of advice.

However, there are some fantastic organisations that provide great advice to people facing problems with the immigration system, listed below. We strongly recommend that people facing immigration problems seek expert help from one or more of them. 

Legal aid

Some of the organisations listed below can provide advice on how to access legal aid: free legal advice and representation by a lawyer, provided by the government. Although the funding for legal aid has been reduced, legal aid is still available regarding asylum, bail and judicial review matters. It is also possible to apply for exceptional funding in some cases for other issues. 

However, legal aid is not the only form of support avalable.

Organisations providing advice and support

We especially recommend the following: The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants have a small but excellent legal department, operate a few free helplines (on undocumented migrants, foreign national prisoners, Unison public sector union members) you can ring or you can arrange a consultation to find out the best next steps you can take.

If you are an asylum seeker claiming refugee status, Asylum Aid offer a very good advice service. Asylum Aid has recently become part of the Migrants’ Resource Centre.

Locally there are often volunteer legal advice drop in sessions organised by solicitors. A good place to start is to search the ILPA directory to find immigration advice near you.

In addition, the following organisations know of sources of immigration advice across the country: JCWI, Right to Remain, Migrants Organise, Migrants’ Rights Network.

If you are a member of a trade union, they will often have legal departments which you might be able to utilise without charge. It is your legal right in the UK to join a trade union. For information on what trade unions are and how to join one see here.

Other more general legal advice providers who cover immigration work include: Citizens Advice and Community Legal Advice (England and Wales).

Many organisations have traditionally suggested seeking help from your MP in immigration cases. You should be aware that some MPs have been reporting undocumented migrants to the Home Office so it is wise to check this list first before seeking the help of a parliamentarian.