Immigration in East Anglia

Birketts LLP

Birketts LLP has a four-lawyer, cross-office practice that handles the full range of business immigration matters at all Tiers, from entrepreneurs to students and temporary workers. It also deals with visas for family members and EEA nationals, indefinite leave to remain matters, sponsor licensing,  settled and pre-settled status issues and more. Practice head Clare Hedges , who is based in Cambridge but works across all four of the firm's offices, is 'easy to work with and very personable'. Legal executive Dasha Ball in Norwich deals with numerous applications for settled status and spouse visas.

Practice head(s):

Clare Hedges

Other key lawyers:

Dasha Ball

Testimonials

We are a small family-run college and don’t always work in an orthodox manner. Birketts has been able to offer a tailor-made service to suit our particular needs. Our first year has been a work in progress and Birketts has managed to adapt and run unfalteringly with the brief.

I have worked with senior associate Clare Hedges on a day-to-day basis for visa applications. Clare is easy to work with and very personable and feels like part of our own team. She responds swiftly to correspondence, often well after normal working hours. When dealing with our international families she is a consummate professional. This is not always straightforward due to language and cultural barriers but she does so effortlessly.

I have no hesitation in recommending their services. They can handle all areas with expertise.

Dasha Ball is very approachable and Clare Hedges is very knowledgeable.

Birketts are my “go-to” experts for employment immigration advice. Their immigration team are experts in their field, they are responsive, understanding, empathetic to employers’ needs but always professional.

I work mostly with Clare Hedges, head of the immigration team at Birketts. Over the last 12 months, I have been particularly impressed with Clare’s proactive approach to keeping her clients updated with the various Brexit scenarios and negotiations and what that might mean for employment immigration. Clare’s communications are always perfectly pitched, simple to understand but engaging and sometimes with a little humour too!

I do know other immigration experts, but Clare Hedges’ passion for her industry and her drive to make a difference to her clients puts her head and shoulders above the rest.

The immigration team, including Janice Leggett, Clare Hedges and Dasha Ball, combine an essential professionalism and caring demeanour to effectively elicit confidence within the minds of their clientele. My case in particular was emotionally charged and anxiety producing as the potential outcome could have resulted in the separation of my family. The team was there not only to collect necessary paperwork so as to build the most compelling arguments possible, but also to answer any questions that we had, and thus to assuage any fears or doubts that we might have had.

Clare Hedges has been our family’s solicitor since we first decided to come to the UK in 2013 and I firmly believe that without her assistance I would not have been able to achieve my lifetime goal of obtaining a doctorate and a better life for myself and my daughters.

Both Dasha Ball and Clare Hedges were not only professional in the building of our case, but also committed to supporting me and my family. They gathered data, explained why items were needed and went above and beyond to be with us on the day of our immigration hearing.’

Birketts provides a friendly multi-speciality provision. They understand the pressures small businesses work under in any given market. Their team members’ accessibility is key to our small business being able to address any number of legal issues. Timely communications are the basic and helping you to consider the potential wider ramifications of an issue are most definitely Birketts LLP’s strength.

Our Birketts contacts are helpful, grasp our needs very quickly, and advise on the best way to approach tasks in the most cost-effective way. That is so important for a small business with limited resources. Perhaps more importantly, they are non-judgemental when you may have messed up or are asking for further explanations when you didn’t quite grasp the full picture the first time.

The team has been extremely welcoming and very capable. When I called Birketts for the first time, I knew instantly that I wanted to work with them as they quickly understood what I needed, were keen to explain the process, and took the time to answer any question I had. This, for me, set them apart from other companies I had previously contacted, where I did not feel as valued as a client during the initial call.

Every member of Birketts I had the chance to talk to has been very helpful in advising me or putting me in contact with the relevant team members when necessary. To me, it seemed like a team that works well together and communicates very effectively.

I had the pleasure to work directly with Dasha Ball at Birketts, who was extremely helpful and efficient from the very start. She was very responsive, thorough, and approachable. I was very confident in asking her about the process and jargon that I was not familiar with, as she never made me feel like my questions were not valid. This was a quality I highly appreciated.

Compared to other individuals I spoke with at other companies, Dasha Ball absolutely stood out in the way she communicated with me, and in her dedication to ensuring that I thoroughly understood the decisions made at every step of the way.

I cannot recommend Dasha Ball enough for her work and professionalism.

The senior associate we work with is proactive, focused, technically knowledgeable and expedited the delivery of projects.

I found Birketts through their listing in the Legal 500, so it’s only fitting that I should contribute for them now. Whilst I was trying to settle on a law firm, I engaged with a number of them and found Birketts to be straightforward, direct and clear on the path forward and what I could expect from the engagement.

The team was responsive, clear in the its requirements for us and transparent. They worked hard to overcome a number of snags in the process, which were largely due to some documentation issues that we had experienced. Whilst the process was stressful for us, the team at Birketts did a great job of suggesting alternative paths to ensure we would be successful in our application.

I would say the team were focused, well organised and very capable in thinking on their feet resulting in changing strategy.

We primarily worked with Dasha Ball and Claire Hedges. Dasha was our main point of contact and did a great job of walking us through the process, being clear and concise and often working at speed to have drafts ready for us to review. This was surprising as some of the law firms I contacted gave convoluted answers, were slow to respond and generally did not inspire confidence.

From the get go, Dasha Ball was on the ball and ready to make things happen. If anything, it felt like Dasha was driving us to an outcome rather than the other way around. I don’t have much experience with law firms and had expected that they would drag everything out to increase their fees. It never felt like this with Birketts or Dasha, who were very efficient and quick to turn things around for us.

They were very knowledgeable of our issue and needs and were incredibly attentive.

Dasha Ball constantly checked in with us, keeping us up to date on next steps. She also made us feel like we weren’t just another immigration case. I would highly recommend working with Birketts based on our interactions with her.

Birketts LLP has provided service tailored to my needs and was also quick to respond to any queries that I had.

Clare Hedges, who handled my case, paid close attention to every detail about the case. She was also very thorough when exploring what the options are with regards to my case. Moreover, she worked tirelessly and was quick to respond to any queries I had.

Birketts has always provided our organisation with very high-quality advice on a number of issues surrounding immigration. They are incredibly knowledgeable and always provide accurate, pragmatic advice appropriate to our size and type of business.

Clare Hedges from Birketts is very well respected locally as an expert on immigration, and provided a number of incredibly helpful briefings on the immigration side to Brexit over the past few years. She is calm, very knowledgeable, and incredibly pragmatic. Her advice is always helpful and she has helped us avoid several challenging situations in the past. We cannot recommend her or the team more generally highly enough.

I usually only deal with one point of contact at Birketts but whenever I have dealt with anyone else they have always been extremely professional and helpful. They definitely provide succinct and accurate advice in an extremely timely manner, which I have not always found with other firms.

My main contact is Clare Hedges for our immigration advice and she is always extremely helpful and clear in her advice. She always ensures she has all of the background before giving a final recommendation. Clare always responds in a timely manner.

We receive wonderful professional advice from Clare Hedges on immigration legislation. She is the best immigration lawyer in Cambridge!

Key clients

Zoopla Limited

Hometrack Data Systems Limited

Frontier Developments plc

Bespak Europe Limited

St Andrew’s Tutorial Services Limited

Eventsforce Solutions Limited

Fluidic Analytics Limited

Quantexa Limited

Raspberry Pi Foundation

Owlstone Medical Limited

McCormick (UK) Limited

Cobb Europe Limited

SPT Labtech Limited

NIAB

Church of England Central Services

Oxford Diocesan Fund

Peterhouse College, Cambridge

London Diocesan Fund

Derivco Ipswich Limited

Mediterranean Shipping Company (UK) Limited

Hireserve Limited

RAND Europe CIC

The Bishop of Lincoln

The Parochial Church Council of the Ecclesiastical Parish of All Souls, Langham Place, London

Undo Limited

uSwitch Limited

Work highlights

  • Delivered an information seminar for EEA national employees for Frontier Developments plc, and provided strategic advice on visas for two new recruits and applied successfully for Ancestry visa and Tier 2 General visa on the basis of shortage occupation.
  • As retained immigration advisers for Church of England Central Services, applied successfully for the renewal of a Tier 2 Minister of Religion visa for a key individual and dependant visas for his family, timing applications around his travel commitments.
  • Developed and executed a strategy for family of EU nationals to become British as quickly as possible; obtained permanent residence cards and applied successfully for naturalisation and registration as British citizens.

Ellisons Solicitors

Ellisons Solicitors acquired Bury St Edmunds firm Gross & Co in late 2019, bringing in practice head Graeme Kirk and partner Sohan Sidhu, who are greatly experienced immigration specialists. Kirk, a former chairman of the Immigration and Nationality Law Committee of the International Bar Association, has almost 40 years' experience in all aspects of business immigration, including the Points-Based System Tiers 1-5, having handled applications for innovators and investors, sole representatives, and related family applications.

Practice head(s):

Graeme Kirk

Other key lawyers:

Sohan Sidhu

Testimonials

The firm has exceptional knowledge of the work type but offering a practical and pragmatic approach.

Trustworthy and reliable advice from Graeme Kirk. He knows his stuff and does not just regurgitate guidance.

The firm is very unique in terms of thinking strategically and inventively. The team is always brainstorming new ideas, analysing the situations, defining clear policies. They guide clients with step-by-step procedures. The team has very strong technical ability and the utmost care of each client. The team goes above and beyond to support and provide solutions for clients.

I have mostly worked with Graeme Kirk and have been working with him for the last 11 years. Graeme’s knowledge and experience in the industry are exceptional. He is always accessible and his compassion for clients is unmatched. He is always very professional, courteous and friendly. His ability to navigate complicated cases is outstanding. Graeme has a good eye for detail, strong communication skills, creative problem-solving abilities, and perseverance. Graeme is brilliant and I couldn’t recommend him highly enough.

Work highlights

  • Advised a Californian hedge fund on the UK Immigration application for a senior employee to open a representative office in the UK.
  • Successfully applied for HNW Iranian national to be granted Indefinite Leave to Remain and, subsequently citizenship, outside of the strict Tier 1 (Investor) and Citizenship rules.
  • Advised several clients in successful applications for the complex area of Tier 1 (entrepreneur) extensions and accelerated settlement applications.

Mills & Reeve LLP

Mills & Reeve LLP has a full-service immigration practice covering business immigration, student immigration and private client matters. Among its clients are household names such as Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, Olympus and Royal Veterinary College. Alex Russell in Norwich leads the firm's national immigration practice and handles complex matters for clients in the education, healthcare, sport, life sciences, technology, and charities sectors. Principal associate Emma Tuck in Cambridge specialises in advising higher education institutions on Tier 4 student immigration matters.

Practice head(s):

Alex Russell

Other key lawyers:

Emma Tuck; Tracy Yates

Testimonials

‘The immigration team is excellent, very responsive and able to answer a wide range of complex questions in a short timeframe. They have an in-depth understanding of the immigration system and its complexities relating to healthcare.’

‘Tracy Yates always responds to my complex issues promptly and offers well thought through advice. We have had some very challenging issues this year and Tracy has never waivered in her ability to respond and ensure that I do not lose valuable staff.’

‘Alex Russell is excellent. He gives advice in a format that is easy to understand and, where appropriate, provides options for us outlining the risk of each one. Additionally, he has come to speak at a regional college network and received very positive feedback from the attendees. Alex always comes back to us very quickly or passes the issue to a colleague if he knows he cannot come back to us in a timely fashion.’

Key clients

Redgate Software Limited

Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Trust

Olympus

Royal Veterinary College

Baxter Healthcare

Cranfield University

Wilmington Plc

Royal Papworth NHS Trust

Royal Society of Chemistry

Work highlights

  • Advised a publicly listed company in the media sector on the appointment of a managing director who was relocating from Hong Kong, which involved advising on and preparing a Tier 2 (General) visa application based on the individual being classified as a high earner under the Immigration Rules.
  • Advised an interactive technology company on registering as a Tier 2 sponsor under the points-based system in order that they could recruit a technical specialist who was based in India, which included preparing the sponsor licence application and enclosures; advising on sponsor licence structure issues including linked entities in India; and preparing and advising on Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer) and related family member visa applications.
  • Provided extensive support for EU staff at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, including: delivering briefings and workshops for European national staff; advising on applications under the new EU Settlement Scheme and for British citizenship; and drafting guidance notes and FAQs for distribution to European staff.

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP

The human resources practice group at Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP has a national immigration practice, in which one associate, Elisa Elston, is based in East Anglia. Elston, who works from the Cambridge office, predominantly acts for clients in the financial services, retail and transport sectors. Her broad employment law practice includes advising businesses on obtaining permission for applicants to live and work in the UK, sponsor obligations and right to work matters.

Other key lawyers:

Elisa Elston

Key clients

CDC Group Plc

Next Plc

ABF Plc

LHR Airports Limited (Heathrow Airport)

Helly Hansen

Unipart Group Limited

Locksmith Animation Limited

Magir Limited trading as Medicare Pharmacy

The University of Sheffield

J Murphy & Sons Ltd

TNT/FedEx Express

Müller UK & Ireland

Stone King LLP

The Cambridge office of Stone King LLP has a specialist immigration practice that acts for individuals as well as for organisations in the education and charity sectors. Partner Julie Moktadir has built the practice over the last two years and has extensive experience in the UK government's points-based system that determines applications for people to enter or remain in the UK. The practice frequently assists faith-based organisations with issues faced by religious workers and volunteers, and advises on shortages of occupation across the charity and education sectors.

Practice head(s):

Julie Moktadir

Testimonials

The team is led by a very knowledgeable member who has exceptional understanding of the immigration system, particularly in education which relates specifically to our organisation. The team responds exceptionally quickly to queries which, when relating to immigration, is a vital requirement for our organisation.

Julie Moktadir is the key person I deal with on the team. She is approachable, and able to sift through legalities relating to immigration to give clear guidance to lay members of staff. She is personable and has an engaging style that puts clients at ease and comfortable to raise any queries, regardless of level.

I have found the team most helpful and speedy in answering any query. A recent webinar was extremely helpful for me and showed very good team work.

Julie Moktadir has been for me a most helpful guide and at all times, even now in this present COVID-19 crisis, always ready to explain any point necessary. I am grateful for all the guidance I receive.

As far as my experience goes, the team at Stone King LLP works together giving a sense of trust to the client who comes to know that the team is capable of answering the needs the client may have.

My institution worked with Stone King in relation to changing to a CIO and regarding immigration issues. I dealt very much with Julie Moktadir and her team. I found Julie and the members of her team very up to date in their field of work, very much available, super-patient and able to answer promptly with competence any queries or doubts I may have had. Moreover, they were able to successfully lead us to the completion of our need.

From my experience, I can say that Stone King LLP is a very serious firm, always acting in a very professional manner. They are always very helpful; if they cannot help with an issue they are honest and advise to get help from another competent firm. As they have different expertise they are able to deliver advice in a personal way.

The person that had dealt with my immigration issues has been very helpful indeed. She knew very well how to do the process, and did it in a very professional manner. I could rely on her and if I had any query, herself or another colleague was ready to help me through the telephone. I got my status of citizenship in a few weeks as she presented all the documentation in a proper way.

Key clients

Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary

Sisters Hospitallers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Tenzo

Cambridge Cancer Genomics

Work highlights

  • Provided extensive immigration advice to the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary in order to facilitate the sponsorship of Sisters to join the organisation in the UK; assistance included the application for a sponsorship licence and visa application as well as ad hoc immigration support as a result of being a level 1 User on their licence.
  • Assisted start-up company Tenzo with every stage of sponsorship in order to fill very specialised roles that could not be recruited for in the UK; this involved a sponsorship licence application and three visa applications for individuals to join the company.
  • Conducted an immigration audit for an independent school that holds a Tier 4 sponsor licence and reviewed its current processes and procedures in order to prepare them for a visit from the UKVI.

Greenwoods GRM

The employment practice at Greenwoods GRM offers immigration services through its three offices in Cambridge, Peterborough and London. Immigration specialist Ina Iteva moved to Gherson but the practice led by John Macaulay in Peterborough still advises clients in the commercial, not-for-profit and education sectors on immigration matters, including the potential impact of Brexit.

Practice head(s):

John Macaulay