A day in the life of an OISC Regulated Immigration Adviser

22nd February 2024

Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes in an immigration law firm?

We spent an insightful day with Maddie Jones, who has been an OISC regulated Level 1 Adviser at SL&V since June 2022. We discussed her role and what she gets up to on a daily basis.

How did you become an Immigration Adviser?

I did my master’s in international law and volunteered at university with young people in asylum seeker families. So, I had some connection with the immigration system already. When I saw the job advertisement for SL&V, I was intrigued because I was unfamiliar with the legal migration landscape in the UK. Normally, all you hear about is asylum or illegal migration. I’m glad I went for it because it’s opened up a whole new world for me.

Describe a typical day as an adviser at SL&V

Every day can be different! But some of my common tasks include: working on sponsor licence applications, attending webinars on issues such as EUSS applications, requesting Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS), reviewing a variety of visa applications, updating myself with any changes to the immigration rules and many more tasks. 

My focus is always on managing and helping our corporate and private clients. I ensure sponsor licences are successful by recognising and mitigating any risks. I support the sponsorship process for candidates to enable a smooth onboarding and respond to any client queries as quickly as possible. For example, we get a large number of queries about compliance from our premium clients. An incident might have occurred at their organisation, and they need to know if it should be reported to the Home Office. Communicating with clients in a way that makes them feel supported is really important to me.

What do you think are the most important qualities for an Immigration Advisor?

Attention to detail! A little mistake can often have big consequences. For example, If there’s a salary mistake on a CoS request it can take up to 8 weeks to be refused before a new application can be made.

It’s also important for us to have integrity because we are helping people adhere to the law. We’re often dealing with personal circumstances, so we need to carry ourselves in a way where we comply with all the guidance. I strongly believe that operating with integrity and transparency builds a trusting relationship with my clients.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I find the process of building client relationships really rewarding. Listening carefully to the client at each stage of the process allows me to get to know them as people, while learning about their specific company’s needs. As our relationship develops, I enjoy knowing that we’ve supported them and helped maintain their compliance. 

Scenarios where I have to conduct research are really satisfying. Sometimes a case or query means I need to go away and find the answer by looking through the Home Office guidance. I like the feeling of building my knowledge, so that next time I can advise a client instantly. 

Alongside research for cases, one of my favourite tasks is research for our webinars. It’s great because it keeps me up to date and on top of things that clients aren’t necessarily asking about. For example, we recently presented a webinar on compliance which allowed me to strengthen my knowledge on sponsor licence revocations.

What is the most challenging part of being an Immigration Adviser?

We work alongside the Home Office, which means there are things we have no control over. The frequent changes in processing times are a particular challenge. For example, at the moment we are seeing significant delays with issuing defined Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS). This is frustrating for us because it has a big impact on our clients and their businesses. 

Home Office caseworker errors are another challenge. The recent increase in the volume of applications has unfortunately led to more caseworker errors. The most difficult part is there isn’t always redress for Home Office errors. When you’ve put a lot of work into an application, making sure it meets all the requirements, it’s tough to get an unfair decision.

Why is immigration advice regulated?

There’s a lot of room for exploitation. It’s essential that we give advice knowing we can be held to account. If immigration advice was being given that had a negative impact on an individual or business, there needs to be redress for that. That’s why we provide details for the OISC in our client care letter, so that clients know where to go. Transparency and integrity are central to all of our work at SL&V.

How do you know the advice you’re giving is the right advice?

A lot of advice that we give is based on clear information from Home Office guidance. However, there can also be grey areas or situations not covered by the guidance. When this is the case, one of the benefits of working at SL&V is our collaborative approach. Our team has over 45+ years’ experience from many different angles within the world of immigration, including direct Home Office experience. In complex situations, we utilise the team’s expertise and form a consensus on the right advice to give. 

We also never give advice unless we’re certain. If that means I have to go away and ask several team members or write emails to the Home Office, that’s what I’ll do. We always ensure that there’s evidence to back up our advice, whether that’s through a piece of guidance or a Home Office email.

The Government recently announced several changes to the immigration system. What are your views on these changes?

The changes will no doubt have an impact on the UK’s net migration figures.

The increase in the salary threshold for family visas could also have a big impact particularly, for spouses of British citizens looking to settle in the UK. It will be interesting to see if there will be a legal challenge to this policy.

The increase in the Skilled Worker salary threshold could also have an impact on certain sectors. However, the opportunities for business growth and team dynamics via sponsorship remain significant. Although we may see an increase in the minimum salary threshold, the new immigration salary list will continue to provide lower salaries for specific occupations.

Many sectors in the UK continue to experience skilled worker shortages. The Home Office sponsor licence will remain an important tool for organisations looking to engage the best candidates from the global talent pool.

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