Next Generation Partners

Immigration in East Midlands

OTB Legal

At OTB Legal, founding partner Mark Lilley-Tams heads the personal immigration department, with a caseload consisting of a range of deprivation of citizenship matters, including a landmark case in which a client is facing deprivation on the basis of criminality, in addition to a number of judicial review applications. Fellow co-founder Sally McEwen leads the business immigration arm, with a particular focus on technology, gaming and tech start-up companies. She routinely assists clients with sponsor licences, entry clearance, switching and change of employment applications, and Home Office auditory processes. Associate Lydia Watkinson likewise focuses on sponsorship, and is a go-to lawyer for individuals relocating from Hong Kong thanks to her specialism in the Hong Kong (BNO) visa. The team was further bolstered by the arrival of Emma Cohen from Bindmans LLP in February 2023.

Practice head(s):

Sally McEwen; Mark Lilley-Tams

Other key lawyers:

Lydia Watkinson; Atty Adetula; Emma Cohen


‘The team is friendly and responsive and I find the free 30 minutes consultation extremely useful. The appointment can also be booked online.’

‘Atty is truly professional and knowledgeable. She was always there when we needed help. We truly enjoy working with her.’

Key clients

Sharkmob London Limited

Symrise Ltd

Human Security Ltd

The Rug Company

NuVision Biotherapies


One World Information Services Ltd

Futaba Manufacturing UK Ltd

Senovo IT Ltd

Don Percival – Brewin Dolphin 1762

ATC Drivetrain

Work highlights

  • Advised Symrise on renewing the company’s sponsor licence for skilled worker and ICT, and retained by the company to manage its licence activity as a level 1 user.
  • Assisted Human Security, an international cyber security company headquartered in New York, to secure a skilled worker and ICT licence for the company in order that they had the ability to employ international experts in London.
  • Assisted The Rug Company in its sponsor licence application and upgrade, retaining work as a level 1 user, and EC applications.

Paragon Law

Praised for its ‘second to none service and advice’, Paragon Law is highly recommended for employers looking for assistance on sponsorship matters, skilled worker applications, transferring senior or specialist staff, challenging Home Office decisions and all manner of HR matters. Team head Thalej Vasishta is the go-to advisor for German clients, overseas companies and entrepreneurs looking to relocate to the UK. Kirin Abbas remains active advising on business immigration, while Deirdre Sheahan represents asylum seekers. Emma Okenyi leads the personal and family immigration department and has an interest in complex British citizenship cases and long residency applications.

Practice head(s):

Thal Vasishta; Kirin Abbas; Emma Okenyi; Deirdre Sheahan


‘The service and advice provided by the team at Paragon is second to none. Nothing is too much trouble, advice and support is very timely, online where needed and they immediately gave us confidence of their understanding of our large operation and immigration needs and supported us.’

‘The service provided by the solicitor I worked with was one of the best I have ever experienced with any law firm. The client was updated at every stage of the claim, steps forward were implemented on time, every time, and with utter competence. The solicitor took counsel from an excellent barrister and the client greatly benefited from this close alliance between the solicitor and the barrister.’

‘I think where PL excel is that they have a past history of doing legally aided judicial review work, so they know how to do it, and that means they know when there is a proper problem which requires quick litigation, and they know at that point to move fast and get counsel. I think they do this really well – they know when to back out of what they usually do and act quickly and decisively.’

‘Thal is the head and knows what is required – he also seems to me to be an excellent manager and manager of clients and client expectations.’

‘Kirin is just great at the detail of sponsor licence stuff – what is required; when it has gone wrong; and when to litigate. Very on it; very responsive.’

‘Thalej Vasishta is reliable, provides practical support, advice and guidance, is available out of normal hours and has a very personable approach. No question is ever a silly question.’

‘Kirin Abbas is also a great support and provides the same practical support and guidance as Tal. Both provide excellent training.’

Key clients

East Midlands Chamber of Commerce

Brush Group Limited

Envivo Group

Essentra PLC

Forterro UK Limited

Hakim Group

Init innovation in traffic systems SE

Open University

Vision Express UK Limited

Mitchells and Butler PLC

Work highlights

  • Advised and handled the sponsor licence application to register the Mitchells and Butler Group of companies as a sponsor licence holder.
  • Advised Essentra on the sale of its packaging division, which required advice on the legal requirements of the transfer of skilled workers, reports to the UKVI, and advising the purchaser of its requirements to assume sponsorship of workers transferring to it.
  • Advising MHA Care Group on the management of its sponsor licence, to train its HR team on sponsor duty requirements and to provide support in the sponsorship application process.

Shoosmiths LLP

The immigration team at Shoosmiths LLP is among the largest in the Midlands, housing a business and personal immigration desk that advises employers on right to work checks, sponsorship and visa applications, and supports individuals in their applications for indefinite leave to remain. Director Rachel Harvey is ‘proactive’ and ‘pragmatic in her approach’ and is the lead practitioner in the Nottingham office.

Practice head(s):

Rachel Harvey


‘Working with Shoosmiths, Rachel Harvey in particular, we receive practical, down to earth business advice. We’ve managed to build a good, collaborative partnership with Rachel to seamlessly achieve our business outcomes.’

‘Rachel Harvey is pragmatic in her approach. Easy to get along with and I feel at ease asking any questions, even if they seem silly. Rachel is also proactive, picking up on bits of information to make sure she’s helping protect our Company proactively.’

‘We get high standard Immigration support with very proactive approach so we can aim to implement the best practice and mitigate any risks.’

‘Rachel Harvey is our key contact, her and her team are very responsive, supportive, whilst we maintain compliant. We also get very sound advice in some of the tricky situations, and I fully trust their advice and judgement.’

Key clients

Urban Creation Limited

Cityfibre Holdings Limited

Coloplast Limited

SC Johnson Professional Limited

Sandvik Holdings Limited

John Deere Limited

ATS Euromaster Limited

University of Northampton

Work highlights

  • Instructed to act on behalf of a Championship football club in respect of all its immigration requirements for players, managers and backroom staff.
  • Advising an international engineering company on a major infrastructure project and obtaining global business mobility visas for engineers.
  • Advising a retail conglomerate in respect of its immigration requirements, sponsorship duties and the recruitment/retention of overseas talent.

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP

Emily Hasted leads the immigration offering at Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP, where she advises on all aspects of business immigration work, from sponsorship licensing and global mobility matters through to the recruitment of non-EU nationals in the UK. The practice also routinely advices on both the immigration and the employment issues arising from right to work checks and illegal working concerns. Audrey Elliott chairs the national immigration practice from Birmingham.

Practice head(s):

Audrey Elliott; Emily Hasted

Sills & Betteridge LLP

Sills & Betteridge LLP‘s immigration department is headed by director Deborah Linford, ‘a complete professional who knows her job inside out’ and a specialist in immigration applications for leave to enter and remain, settlement, citizenship, EEA applications and appeals.

Practice head(s):

Deborah Linford


‘Deborah Linford was excellent, she was our contact and always available to discuss matters, we understood the situation all the way through the process and she gave us confidence at all times, I really cannot say enough about Deborah, but totally outstanding.’

‘Extrememly efficient service, professional employees who are experienced in their field of work.’

‘Deborah Linford was extremely professional and efficient in all her dealings with me. She explained things clearly and kept me updated every step of the process. I had absolute confidence in her and really valued her advice.’

‘Deborah Linford is a complete professional knowing her job inside out. She acts with common sense, compassion and dignity. Her clients matter to her and she cares for their welfare making the whole process as easy and stress free as possible. Deborah was easy to get in touch with, always knew exactly where the action was at.’

‘Deborah Linford was outstanding. She was well informed and assisted me in a supportive and knowledgable style. I found this very reassuring.’

‘Sills and Betteridge are very helpful and professional. They take full responsibility from your first appointment, make you understand the situation fully. All the staff are very friendly, in emergency they always make sure I speak to the right person almost straightaway. They are always upfront for the cost of work – this is very important. Every time I use this practice I have received a positive outcome. I will choose Sills & Betteridge again and again.’