Firms To Watch: Immigration

Harper Macleod LLP recently built out its immigration capabilities with the hire of senior associate Ashley Fleming, who joined from Bindmans LLP in London.

Immigration in Scotland

Burness Paull LLP

Burness Paull LLP handles the full remit of corporate and personal immigration with regular instructions in the latter including family migration and intercountry adoption issues. This is not least a reflection of team head Grace McGill's skillset. She is based in Glasgow and supported by Jamie Kerr, who has recently advised on sponsor licences for religious workers and on Brexit-related rights to work matters in the energy sector. Due to the firm's presence in Aberdeen, energy companies and offshore oil and gas businesses form a key part of its corporate client portfolio but it also includes sport associations and professional bodies. Senior associate Nikki Weir is another key contact for sponsor licences and nationality law as well as child migration.

Practice head(s):

Grace McGill

Other key lawyers:

Jamie Kerr; Nikki Weir


‘They are market leaders in relation to both domestic and international immigration advice acting for both individuals and institutions.’

The are friendly and approachable to deal with.’

‘The attention to detail of the team is unrivalled. The work they do is totally customer focused in a very empathetic, kind caring manner.’

‘Jamie Kerr’s and Nikki Weir’s advice has been invaluable in correcting a number of years of poor in-house work.’

‘Grace McGill and her team are unrivalled in this area.’

‘Grace McGill is just world class. Her attention to detail is first class. Putting the client’s needs and wants first is always on Grace’s agenda and getting the best outcome.’

‘Grace McGill is a leading lawyer with compassion to match her expertise and knowledge.’

‘Jamie Kerr is very impressive, a modern and thoughtful lawyer, he is well connected and personable.’

Key clients


Queen’s Park Football Club

Scottish Football Association

Nelms Family (Dundee Football Club)

SSE plc

Association of Chartered Certified Accountants

Capricorn Energy

Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh

Saba Capital Management

Viewpoint Housing Association Limited

Work highlights

  • Advising Skyora, a rocket design and launch company, on a significant number of international transfers.
  • Advising Scottish Football Association around recruitment of coaching staff to the Scottish national women’s football team.
  • Providing SSE with specialist immigration support, Brexit advice and support with right to work queries.

Drummond Miller LLP

As well as providing wide-ranging immigration law advice with a focus on personal immigration, Drummond Miller LLP stands out for its litigation capabilities. The Edinburgh-based Humphrey Ndubuisi is a key contact for this and is well versed in handling deportation and depreciation of citizenship cases. The team’s expertise in family migration-related work was further underlined with the partner promotion of Sarah Jack in 2021. She is dual qualified in English and Scots law and is also based in Edinburgh. The Glasgow team is led by Janey Armstrong, whose recent workload includes business immigration matters, most notably post-Brexit sponsor licences and skilled worker visas. The overall team is led by David Brown from Edinburgh.

Practice head(s):

David Brown


‘Good empathy with clients. Really good at preparing cases for court. Excellent knowledge and understanding of judicial review procedure.’

‘Excellent knowledge of the growing area of law around EU citizens rights.’

‘The team at Drummond Miller LLP are very supportive of engagement with service users of our organisations.’

‘The knowledge the team hold and their approach when working with women who have experienced trauma is exceptional.’

‘Experienced and reliable team. Extremely professional.’

‘David Brown – head of immigration. Comprehensive knowledge of immigration law, and experience in court practice. Excellent at dealing with clients as well.’

Janey Armstrong knows all the intricacies of the constantly changing array of legislation and guidance on the rights of EU and other European citizens to reside and work in the UK.

‘Humphrey Ndubuisi is a highly knowledgeable practitioner and very capable advocate.’

Work highlights

  • Advised a horticulture business on the retention and acquisition of seasonal workers post-Brexit.
  • Advised a Turkish business person on an extension of stay where their original business was no longer viable due to the impact of Covid-19.
  • Advised a business in the food service industry on the prospects of success of a sponsor licence under the skilled worker route in order to find a solution to the problem of a shortage of settled workers.

Morton Fraser

Morton Fraser‘s client base includes businesses based in London and the South of England as well as a number of relocation companies highlighting the team’s dedication to business immigration, while also handling personal immigration issues for private clients. Typical instructions range from EU settlement scheme issues and investor visas to skilled worker sponsor licences and staff transfers. Public sector organisations instruct the team led by Stuart McWilliams to assist with right to work issues.

Practice head(s):

Stuart McWilliams


‘The team worked empathetically and practically through a number of challenges over a lengthy period. The options and actions were clarified in order that a non-legal person could understand. A fee package was agreed in advance with all inclusions and exclusions.’

‘Working with Morton Fraser provides a sense of security and reassurance due to their depth of knowledge and wealth of experience in UK immigration legislation.’

‘The team at Morton Fraser always take a human approach when it comes to support with our immigration needs.’

‘They maintain their knowledge by being well versed in changes to legislation and always efficient and clear in their updates and communications. Morton Fraser offer guidance which is solutions based and realistic which ensures client satisfaction.’

‘Responsiveness, follow-up along the whole process, best approach, accountability, transparency on the different steps, clear billing, timeliness. All in all, best approach which reduced much the usual stress of the procedure.’

‘Stuart McWilliams was available whenever there was a query or actions required. Other members of the team were available, efficient and warm to work with throughout.’

‘Stuart McWilliams goes above and beyond his expected role.’

Stuart maintains the highest standard of professionalism and his advice and guidance is invaluable.’

Key clients

Capital HPLC

Korn Wall T/A Kwickscreen


NHS Lothian

Dukosi Limited

Candriam Investments

Skyscanner Limited

Altair Global Services LLC

Cambridge Healthcare Research Limited

Axis Productions Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Skyscanner Limited in relation to compliance matters linked to their sponsor licence and on visa applications for all incoming non-UK staff and existing employees applying to remain in the UK.
  • Acting for a private client applying for a Tier 1 (Investor) visa. This was a complicated case due to fact the funds were held in a trust in the USA but the team worked closely with the client, her US lawyers, financial advisor and the Home Office to provide sufficient evidence of the source of her funds and eligibility under the immigration rules.
  • Acted for Altair Global and its client, a European engineering firm, to obtain a skilled worker licence and a visa for an aerospace engineer needed to fulfil an urgent contract in the UK.

Shepherd and Wedderburn

Shepherd and Wedderburn specialises in business immigration but has also become increasingly active in the private client immigration sphere. Team head Jacqueline Moore's expertise spans both segments, translating into regular Brexit-related and sponsor licence instructions, while she and the team as a whole are also well placed to provide corporate support work. She is supported by senior associate John Vassiliou, who covers the full spectrum of immigration and nationality law.

Practice head(s):

Jacqueline Moore

Other key lawyers:

John Vassiliou


‘It’s a strong, multitalented team that is particularly strong on business migration.’

‘I have found Shepherd and Wedderburn to be nothing but professional, honest and diligent. They have worked for me in various capacities and each time from partner to associate, I have found them to be experts in their field, efficient and easily accessible.’

‘Jacqueline Moore and her team went above and beyond to help us navigate the whole application process, taking into consideration complex circumstances we had due to the pandemic.’

‘Jacqueline Moore is an expert in her field. We instructed her to help obtain British citizenship for our two adopted children. After much research, we selected Shepherd and Wedderburn for Jacqueline, rather than selecting the law firm and then being given the lawyer. I should note that I now use multiple departments within the firm and I am very happy with their service.’

Jacqueline and her team are incredibly invested in their work and they make you feel well supported through the whole immigration process. We could not recommend Jacqueline more highly and are so thankful for the help and attention to detail she and her team provided us during a very stressful process!

‘John Vassilou is one of the best young immigration lawyers in the UK, with tremendous intellectual ability, enthusiasm and drive.

‘John Vassiliou is a superstar. Few lawyers are able to combine an encyclopaedic understanding of the law with genuine empathy for their clients as John does. His expertise spans the full range of immigration law and he does excellent work in all his areas of practice. He is very easy to work with, has great judgment and knows how to get the most out of every case.’

‘John Vassiliou is brilliant, uniquely talented and an exceptional lawyer.’

Key clients


Work highlights

  • Advised a Russell Group university on complex sponsor licensing and immigration status queries.
  • Advised a construction sector company on post-Brexit immigration permissions for specialist labour supplied by a third-party contractor in the context of a purchase of goods from an overseas manufacturer.
  • Represented an octogenarian woman in a human rights appeal against a Home Office decision to refuse her to remain with her UK-based family during the pandemic.

Brodies LLP

Brodies LLP's immigration team is part of the firm's wider employment law offering, translating into a significant focus on employers work and matters at this particular intersection respectively. Recently, this included Brexit-related EU settlement scheme, sponsorship and relocation issues as well as applications under the skilled worker route. The Glasgow-based Elaine McIlroy, who also advises private clients on spousal visas and other personal immigration matters, is the key contact.

Practice head(s):

Elaine McIlroy

Other key lawyers:

Tony Hadden; Lynne Marr

Key clients

Queen Margaret University


Sykes Global Services Ltd

University of Edinburgh

Equality and Human Rights Commission

Teleperformance Limited


Abellio Scotrail Limited

Work highlights

  • Acted for TalentScotland on a broad range of immigration matters, including on sole representative, innovator, investor and start-up visas.