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  1. Immigration
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Who Represents Who

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Probably the most diverse practice in Scotland’ according to one client, Drummond Miller LLP handles the full spectrum of immigration law, including personal and business immigration as well as asylum and deportation cases. Other areas of expertise include nationality, human rights and EU law. In litigation, the firm is well known for its expertise in challenging decisions of the UK Border Agency and overseas Entry Clearance Posts at the First-Tier and Upper Tribunals of the Immigration and Asylum Chamber, the Court of Session and the Supreme Court. Glasgow-based Jacqueline Moore attracts praise for her ‘unusual mix of private client and legal aid expertise’. She obtained a sponsor licence for a multinational gaming company in order to obtain a restricted Certificate of Sponsorship for a key employee. On the contentious side, the team acted for a PhD student in an appeal brought before the First-Tier Tribunal, and subsequently represented the client in the Upper Tribunal following the refusal of a Tier 4 visa extension. The team also defended a couple at the First and Upper Tribunal against accusations of entering a marriage of convenience. David Brown is ‘very good’.

A market leader for specialist immigration and human rights law in Scotland’, McGill & Co’s ‘excellent and prompt’ team assists private clients with all aspects of immigration and nationality law, including business, investor and entrepreneur migration, sponsorship licensing, family migration, and asylum and refugee work. The ‘highly personable, intelligent and accurate’ Darren Stevenson is praised as having ‘an unrivalled encyclopaedic knowledge of immigration and sponsorship rules along with sound practical and commercial judgment’ while also demonstrating ‘a good understanding of the client’s professional and personal circumstances’. He frequently deals with sponsorship licences and has particular expertise in the fishing industry. Grace McGill, whose ‘guidance is always spot-on’, is ‘very good at clarifying the essential steps needed to address the client’s situation’. She focuses on family and commercial migration with a particular specialism in Tier 1 investor applications. ‘Highly qualified and professional’ associate John Vassiliou is ‘very helpful and immediately puts the client’s mind at rest’.

Providing an extremely high service level’, Morton Fraser covers the gamut of immigration, asylum and nationality law, including litigation in the Upper Tribunal and the Court of Session. With a specialism in business immigration matters, the team frequently handles Tier 1 (entrepreneur) and Tier 1 (exceptional talent) applications – often in the digital technology sector – as well as Tier 2 sponsor licence suspension and revocation issues. In addition, the practice regularly acts for relocation companies in matters which are often dealt with in conjunction with the firm’s robust employee mobility unit. Team head David Hossack assisted AGS 360 Solutions with UK visa applications for companies within the BMW Group, and advised US marketing specialist Televerde Europe on immigration issues related to the establishment of its European headquarters in Glasgow. In another highlight, the team assisted Skyscanner with an application of a sponsor licence renewal. ‘Highly focused’ senior associate Stuart McWilliams is ‘extremely responsive and provides accurate and valuable advice while ensuring that clients know of all the risks’.

Thorntons Law LLP is known for providing wide-ranging immigration, asylum and nationality law advice to businesses, inward investors, individuals and public sector clients, covering entrepreneur visa requirements, spouse visas and international adoption issues. clients also appreciate the team’s niche expertise human trafficking and modern slavery matters. Practice head Jamie Kerr regularly advises Perth College on visa rights to remain in the UK. Recently, the team advised an education-sector client on visa issues pertaining to a member of staff who was forced to leave the UK. He also advised an inward investor on the application for an entry clearance on a Tier 1 (entrepreneur) visa to set up a business in the UK, and assisted a non-British footballer with the application of a Tier 2 (sportsperson) visa and the client’s relocation to Scotland. Thje firm also acts for investment management firm Dundas Global Investors on immigration issues pertaining to the recruitment of staff from outside the EEA.

CMS frequently assists its clients – often from the oil and gas industry as well as the university sector – with visa applications for senior executive appointments, sponsor licence applications and Tier 2 visa extensions. Finlay McKay advised the Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh on the rejected application for citizenship submitted by a professor. He also advised the University of Dundee on visa issues for foreign nationals to enter China to carry out short-term work assignments. Other recent work includes assisting with obtaining a licence to sponsor migrant workers, and advising a client on its dealings with an employee who had lost their right to work in the UK.

Maclay Murray & Spens LLP has particular strength in sponsorship matters, including sponsor duty compliance and sponsorship licence applications, and the practice also deals with family and other business immigration issues. The team acted for a financial services organisation in an audit of a new client’s immigration practices and procedures, which included right to work checks and sponsor duty compliance work. The team also advised a number of companies, including Hunter Boot and a software company, on first-time sponsorship licence applications, licence renewals and requirements for adding a new tier to the licence. Other recent work includes advising a global HR and payroll solutions company on matters pertaining to the breach of immigration rules, and assisting a number of individuals with visa issues, including assisting a non-British student with an application to extend their stay in the UK and advising another individual on returning resident visa application issues. Employment, pensions and immigration head Amanda Jones is the key contact.

Pinsent Masons LLP is praised for providing ‘detailed and commercial advice in a timely manner’. The immigration practice is particularly well versed in handling corporate immigration issues, including advising on the prevention of illegal working and UKVI compliance investigations alongside sponsorship and visa applications. ‘Very helpful and knowledgable’ legal director and corporate immigration practice co-head Joanne Hennessy continues to assist an Aberdeen-based multinational energy company with day-to-day immigration law matters, including advising on the prevention of illegal working, sponsor compliance and visa applications. As well as its oil and gas sector expertise, the team is also experienced in working for higher education, retail, infrastructure, sport and financial services sector clients. Edinburgh-based Euan Smith heads the team alongside Hennessy.

Weightmans LLP is able to call on colleagues in the firm’s robust employment team to assist multinational clients and blue-chips with sponsor licence and work permit applications, alongside general immigration compliance matters. Main contact Elaine McIlroy, who provides ‘good, succinct advice’, assisted a client with a Tier 2 visa application for an executive director, and advised another client on the procedures for obtaining status of indefinite leave to remain for a key member of staff. The team also dealt with refused visa application and sponsorship matters.

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