Blog

Oct 11
Legal 500 Recognises NLS Solicitors as Leading Firm

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Legal 500 has ranked NLS Solicitors again in its 2017 survey.

 

Louise Fenney and Shahnaz Nowaparast have been recommended for the first time and Nicholas Webb as been identified as a Leading Individual in the Immigration Law category.

 

We are grateful to our clients for their contribution to the Legal 500's research and for their positive feedback.

 

The Legal 500  research is based on feedback from 250,000 clients worldwide, submissions from law firms and interviews with leading private practice lawyers.

 

The Legal 500 writes:

 

"With practitioners based out of Newport, Cardiff and Swansea, the 'very experienced and helpful' team at niche immigration firm NLS Solicitors has the strength-in-depth to handle a tremendous volume and range of privately funded and legal aid work. The 'very reliable and professional' Nicholas Webb provides 'real depth of knowledge and attention to detail', particularly as it relates to business immigration and advising companies and individuals on meeting Home Office requirements for Tier 1 and Tier 2 visas. Other recommended practitioners include Louise Fenney, who has a particular specialism in trafficking cases, and Shahnaz Nowaparast, who handles a significant amount of asylum work."

Feb 09
The UK has a strong reputation in Europe and internationally for looking after the most vulnerable?

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You can usually tell when the UK Government is doing something nasty to asylum seekers or refugees because they usually start the reason for doing so with something like "The UK has a strong reputation in Europe and internationally for looking after the most vulnerable", as with the announcement that the transfer of children seeking asylum in the UK is to be stopped at 350 individuals instead of 3000 as initially stated.

 

The UK probably does have this reputation but I wonder if the UK government started telling the truth about the treatment of asylum seekers, refugees and migrants generally, it would be a more effective deterrent?

Sep 29
We are recruiting!

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Our Cardiff office is looking for an apprentice business administrator.

 

It is an awesome opportunity to start a career in a niche law firm listed in the Legal 500. Situated in the heart of Cardiff, you will be working with our dynamic team to make sure everything runs smoothly, from answering phones and greeting clients to creating bundles for appeals.

 

There is real opportunity for career development, with some of our administrative staff now being trained as legal caseworkers.

 

The last date for applications is 14 October and interviews will be taking place on 21 October.

 

The position is funded by Jobs Growth Wales so only those unemployed aged between 16-24 who live in wales can apply, but if you think you have the right stuff you can find more details and apply here.

Sep 14
NLS Solicitors ranked by Legal 500

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Legal 500 has ranked NLS Solicitors for the first time in its 2016 survey.

This good news from Legal 500 means that we have been recognised for our immigration practice based across South Wales.

We are grateful to our clients for their contribution to the Legal 500's research and for their positive feedback.

The Legal 500  research is based on feedback from 250,000 clients worldwide, submissions from law firms and interviews with leading private practice lawyers.

​The Legal 500 writes:

Niche immigration firm NLS Solicitors handles the full spectrum of immigration matters from family visas and asylum claims to sponsor licence applications and European free movement cases. The ‘efficient’ Nicholas Webb in Newport displays ‘great integrity’.  

​​

Jul 06
Remain-a-thon: Free EU Immigration Advice Session

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We know lots of EU nationals are worried about what the future will bring for them in terms of being able to remain in the UK:  recent comments by Teresa May have made that uncertainty all the greater.

But the UK is still currently part of the EU and the rules and regulations about remaining in the UK have not changed, it is still possible to obtain evidence of your right to be in the UK and even to become British if you want.

We are holding a Remain-a-thon advice session for 5pm to 8pm on Wednesday 13 June for anyone who is concerned.

No need to make an appointment just turn up at one of our offices and we will give you a friendly welcome and advice on your position.

May 18
Eurovision and Refugees

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Photo by Mike used under Licence

 

For those who do follow this blog, you may remember my post about Eurovision, Syria and cats.

 

Well it appears that the BBC decided not to show the interval act in question during the Semi-final of the contest.

 

For those who wanted to see it the video is below.

 

 

 

 

May 06
Right to Rent Checks for Landlords

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The Home Office have produced this short and simple video guide to right to rent checks for Landlords.

The reality is that it is more complicated than this video will have you believe, not least because there are 25 different documents that can be provided to demonstrate a right to rent, either alone or in combination.  Landlords will also need to be able to spot a fake document if it is presented to them and comply with anti-discrimination laws.

I will be talking more about this subject at a the Landlord Forum on 27 May at The Parkway Hotel in Cwmbran.  The event is being organised by Rubin Lewis O'Brien.

Follwing the event I will be posting links to various materials that will help Landlords and agents with the checks.

 

 

 

Photo by Charleston's TheDigitel  used under licence

Apr 21
How much for access to justice?

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As a lawyer I believe in access to justice, I really do care that my clients are able to enforce their rights.  As I sit here listening to Prince (Raspberry Beret if you must know) I am writing about the consultation on increasing the appeal fees for the Immigration Tribunal to £800 for an oral hearing as announced today and reported in The Guardian and I'm contemplating how my clients are going to access justice if this is brought in.

I know why the Government are doing it, it says in the consultation; it's to make sure that those who use the system pay for it, but it is going to put so many people off making appeals that the 20% reduction  in appeals predicted by the equality assessment  in the consultation will not be accurate.

Many of my clients making applications for their spouse to come from overseas are earning close to the financial threshold of £18600.00.  It currently costs £1195.00 for an entry clearance application plus £600 for a (tax on foreigners) Immigration Health Surcharge.  That is before they pay any lawyer fees.

Then an Entry Clearance Officer doesn't look at a document.  It's there and is referenced in the letter accompanying the application, and referenced in the submissions quite clearly, but the person making the decision doesn't see it.  We appeal pointing this out and the Home Office withdraw.  The Tribunal must treat the appeal as withdrawn unless there are good reason not to and anecdotal evidence suggests that pointing out that we have just submitted the same documentation again because the Entry Clearance Officer hasn't looked at it properly is apparently not a good reason (although this is being challenged).

And this is important because if the Tribunal allow the appeal on the basis that the document was there all the time and the decision was wrong there is a strong chance of getting the appeal fee back and possibly (only just) the fees paid to your lawyer.  With an appeal withdrawn, no fee award.  You have effectively, under the new proposed fee scheme, paid nearly £800 more for your visa than if the decision maker had made a decision properly in the first place.

And that is if you are going to be able to afford to appeal in the first place.  At the level of the financial threshold you will have already paid nearly 10% of your gross salary in Home Office fees.  Most are not going to be able to afford an additional £800.  It is not access to justice and I will be responding to the consultation in these terms.

 

Photo by Moprax used under licence.

Apr 15
Why is setting the bar for settlement at 35K a bad idea?

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On 6th April the Immigration Rules were changed so that in order to obtain settlement in the UK a Tier 2 visa holder will need to earn £35000 a year.  The policy has been put in to place in order to drive down the reliance of the UK on skilled labour from outside the UK, and to reduce the net migration figures.  Why is this bad?

I'm not saying that aiming to have a well skilled, home grown workforce in the UK is a bad idea.  But UK companies who want to grow need the skills now, not in 3 years when they have trained someone. 

The rules don't take into account that different parts of the UK have different economies and therefore different salaries are paid for similar work; national companies may not, but small and medium businesses and start-ups, who are the firms who want to grow quickly, are going to. 

It brings the worth of someone's job down to pure monetary terms.  It suggests that someone working for a charity who is making a contribution to their community every day and who will never earn £35K is somehow worth less to the UK than a banker.  Two extremes I know but you get the idea.

I think that the policy is very short-sighted.  I can see how this it is likely to stop growth in firms. If you are a small business that needs skills in order to grow, but you operate in a part of the UK where the average wage is lower and the income of your business is lower and you pay your staff the going rate would you really want to try to employ someone with those skills?  Someone, who in 5 years is going to have to earn more than £35K, (and let's face it that figure will increase), when none of your current staff are earning that amount.  If you do employ that person you are eventually going to have to put up all your staff pay to ensure equality. Yes, you need the skills, but can you really afford to apply for a sponsor licence, pay a skills charge, and train someone up only to lose them at the end of 5 years?

On the flip side would you, when looking for employment, want to apply for something when you know at the end of 5 years your job is going to disappear and all the hard work and friends you have made while being integrated into the UK will be left behind when you return home.

This policy will also affect those who are already in the UK, who already have a contract with UK plc, working hard, integrating and generating growth in our economy.  Yes, as an immigration lawyer I understand that no one who enters the UK has any expectation to stay here and that immigration rules can and do change but does the Government think that those who enter the UK understand this?

In addition if you look at the codes of practice issued by the Home Office the following jobs have salary rates for experienced staff that are below the £35K threshold:

  • Civil engineers
  • Production and process engineers
  • Production managers and directors in construction
  • Mechanical engineers
  • Design and development engineers
  • Paramedics

 

There are others in the list and I don't say that every job that can come into the categories above can't result in a salary of £35k or over, but look at the job titles and ask yourself, do we really want the people in these types of jobs that clearly contribute to the UK leaving because they don't earn £35K or are they more important than that?

It seems to me at least that in the continuing drive to meet the net migration target the UK government is cutting off its nose to spite its face.

Now the selling bit, because I don't write these blogs just for fun.  If you think you are going to be affected by this please speak to an immigration lawyer now.  I can't guarantee that there will be another option for you but unless you seek advice you won't know.

Hopefully you would choose NLS Solicitors as a result of this blog and the fact we used a picture of a nose to promote it. You can contact us through our website , call us, email us or direct message me through Twitter (I follow back) or you could post a message on our Facebook page.  But even if you don't contact NLS Solicitors speak to someone as there may be other options for you.  The Government are probably not going to back down on this and you will be better prepared if you speak to someone now.

 

Photo by Elvert Barnes used under licence

Apr 11
What have Eurovision, Syria and cats got in common?

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It was announced last week that the Swedish organisers of the Eurovision Song Contest are going to show solidarity with the refugees coming into Europe.  To be honest I'm not sure how the usual glitz and glamour of the Eurovision show will deal with such a heavyweight issue, but it will be interesting to see.  The announcement got me thinking about how British attitudes to refugees seem to have changed.

Before the famous picture of Alan Kurdi washed up on the beach last year, all those entering Europe were demonised.  This was despite the fact that most of those from Syria and Eritrea who cross into Europe are probably recognised as refugees, and those from Iran and Iraq are leaving repressive regimes and ISIS.  But that picture seemed to change attitudes; refugees were all of a sudden seen as human beings.  A quick note here from an immigration lawyer, they have always been.

I have been working in this area of law for a long time.  The jungle in France has existed for more than 10 years.  Refugees and asylum seekers have been stopping there and places like it since I started dealing with this area of law, I would think because it is easier for human traffickers to arrange journeys is shorter sections.  Yes in the last 5 years the numbers entering Europe and getting stuck in the jungle and similar places has gone up, but this can be traced to the conflict in Syria and the revolution in Libya that has opened up the route across the Mediterranean.  Many of my clients from Africa talk about being held up in Libya before the revolution, being used as cheap illegal labour under the control of agents.  What we in the UK, and in particular the politicians, must realise is that no matter the deals we do with Turkey, and how many vulnerable refugees are relocated from camps, and no matter how hostile an environment we create, until the conflicts stop and repressive regimes change, people will risk their lives and travel for a better life.  The alternative is that they risk their lives and stay.

And cats, well cat pictures are very popular on the internet apparently.  Just as a picture of Alan Kurdi can change our attitudes to refugees, I'm hoping that a picture of a cat will reach out to more people.

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