I have been practising as a direct access immigration barrister in London for many years now, essentially from when barristers were permitted to provide direct access advice. Prior to this I have been practising as an immigration barrister since 1999, initially for the government which I think has given me an insight into the way that the government works, or does not work as the case may be.
Recently I have started to receive more enquiries from clients that live outside London, often with families or work commitments which makes it very difficult to attend my office for conferences.
I have been offering Skype and telephone conferences now for several years and have found that they work well. I have had conferences where I have not been provided with paperwork and also where the paperwork has been posted or scanned to me thus enabling me to be fully prepared when dealing with the case.
I say that this has worked well as last week I found myself in Bradford for a hugely meritorious entry clearance case. The client clearly met all the requirements of the immigration rules, thought it was not a straightforward case as the sponsor was on benefits. He more than met the maintenance requirements as per the case of Ahmed and owned his own property, he had worked very hard before being struck down with a disability. The ECO had refused his case by misapplying the rule, the ECM had also misapplied the rule by disqualifying a benefit that clearly should not have been disqualified. We had numerous discussions on the telephone and was able to prepare a comprehensive bundle and witness statement without the need and additional expense of numerous trips to London to meet me and my team.
The result was that costs were kept to a minimum and I was able to get to the Court and liaise with the Home Office Presenting Officer in good time, who incidentally agreed that the ECO/ECM had got the rules wrong. I was still a little in doubt as to whether I had missed something, however at the outset of the hearing we were able to discuss the case with the Immigration Judge who again agreed with us, with the outcome that I am certain that my client and his wife will soon be enjoying family life in the UK.
I say this as this was a case that was done largely through the telephone/internet, yet was as well prepared as if the client had been in the office working with us on a daily basis. I have had a few days off, and am currently in Marrakech which has given me the time to catch up on my paperwork and also to reflect back on cases that have gone well over the last month or so.
What I take from this is that if you have a problem and you are reading my blog or have come across me and are looking for some advice please do not be put off by the distance. With today’s modern means of communication a case can properly be prepared, analysised and advised on without the need for their to be a physical meeting to start with.
If you or a family member or a friend have a problem please do not hesitate to get in touch with me and my dedicated team and we will do our utmost to help you with you any immigration advice / problem you may or may not have.