Chris has been continuously involved with UK immigration issues since 1969. It is fair to say that until the late 1980s, solicitors generally received no training in immigration and tended to harm rather than assist immigration clients who instructed them. A few unqualified immigration advisers also gave generally incompetent advice. Some charity organisations provided competent advice and a small number of lawyers made important contributions in British nationality law and asylum law for example. During his time as a UK immigration officer, Chris had been involved in the early Home Office efforts to enforce removal of overstayers and illegal entrants. He was therefore ideally placed to exploit loopholes in the immigration laws. Following his successful efforts on behalf of many hundreds of clients illegally in the UK, the immigration rules were changed in order to block the loopholes. But this is an ongoing process and there have been many changes in the immigration rules since. There can be few immigration lawyers who have been monitoring these changes for as long as Chris.
Brion & Co pioneered the technique of looking at what the client wanted to achieve rather than what the client wanted to apply for. For example, the rules on establishing in business in the UK were onerous and required major investment. But Chris knew that a foreign national who had been given an illegible entry stamp (eg "Leave to enter for s.. months") was entitled to claim permanent residence (indefinite leave) from the Home Office. Chris also knew that 25% of stamps were illegible. Many business clients flew back and forth into the UK showing their passports to Chris on return and so obtained indefinite leave the easy and entirely legal way. While that particular loophole was closed (although not retrospectively) when the Home Office realised what was happening, others opened up and the technique of looking beyond what the client thinks he wants is still valid today.
Although we now generally instruct barristers to appear for our clients at immigration appeals, until recent years Chris used to appear regularly as an advocate at immigration appeals before the immigration appeal tribunal. There are two reasons why we now normally instruct barristers. Firstly, nowadays the appeals seldom raise any complex issues of law where Chris's particular experience was important. Secondly, it is generally much cheaper for clients for a barrister to be instructed. Incidentally, we always prepare the documentation ourselves for our clients' appeals.
Brion & Co also has wide experience of the use of European Union legislation to achieve residence in the UK and other EU Member States. It is open to British nationals to acquire residence in the UK for their foreign dependants in some circumstances and we have employed this in many past cases.
Jessica Wong, the solicitor manager of our central London office, initially trained as a solicitor with Brion & Co and has worked with Chris on immigration cases for 17 years. For the last ten years she has run our London office and has supervised all of our immigration cases at first instance. Her expertise in immigration law is second to none.
Many immigration firms advertising in newspapers are not solicitors at all but "immigration advisers" who may have no legal qualifications. Even those who are registered with the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) may have little or no educational background or professional skills. While not all firms of solicitors will have any expertise in immigration law, it is important to note that to qualify as a solicitor requires years of academic and professional training. Furthermore, solicitors are bound by strictly enforced professional rules.
It is known that there are a number of incompetent and expensive "immigration adviser firms" masquerading as solicitors. They are seldom caught because their clients are afraid to denounce them in case they themselves get into trouble with the immigration authorities. See https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/bogus-immigration-lawyers-charged-thousands-for-useless-advice
Fortunately, it is easy to check whether your adviser is a solicitor. You can check the firm here: SRA check on law firm and on the individual solicitor here: SRA check on a solicitor's record. You can check whether a person is a solicitor here: Law Society list of solicitors
You can check whether an immigration adviser is OISC registered here: OISC.
If your adviser states that he/she is a barrister, you can check here: Bar Standards Board. You should note that barristers are not a senior profession to solicitors and a barrister operating as an immigration adviser will be a "non-practising barrister" which means he will not be permitted to appear as an advocate - generally because he has not finished his training. Nevertheless, a non-practising barrister is subject to strictly enforced professional rules.
The UK immigration authorities make widespread use of compulsory application forms. These are intended to reduce the workload of their staff and also operate to prevent their staff from taking into account information that might help borderline applicants. This has a further unfortunate effect in that incompetent advisers can make a living simply by filling in the forms. There is little point in paying this sort of adviser - anyone can fill in forms. A competent adviser will look into all the client's circumstances, and consider whether the client runs any risk in applying, before completing an application form. A competent adviser will also ensure that any extra relevant information is sent to the immigration authorities regardless that the form does not cater for this.
We often encounter clients who have got themselves into trouble by following immigration advice on websites. Much of such information may be incorrect and what may work for some applicants may not work for others. The immigration rules are complex, they are changed from time to time and are not always interpreted in a straightforward manner by the immigration authorities and the courts. If you make an ill conceived application, it may be impossible to rescue the situation.
We understand that no two clients are the same. We will provide you with advice that is tailored to your immigration background, current personal circumstances and requirements. We will also consider your long term interests and goals because an ill thought out application might restrict your choices later. We will advise you of any risk in making your application because the consequence of a refused immigration application can be very serious.
We are proud of our honest, independent and results-orientated approach to clients, which we think distinguishes us from the general run of immigration firms. We are a team of experienced professionals who use our broad, and in-depth, knowledge of immigration law to assist you and to ensure that you are made aware of all of the potential options for achieving your immigration goal.
We know that our clients want to pay for a service that gives them confidence and so we offer an initial free face to face immigration consultation on Mondays and Tuesdays by prior appointment. We can then assess your case to see whether we can assist you, and you in turn can meet the people who will be working on your case.