Firms To Watch: Immigration

Founded in 2020, boutique immigration firm Helen Smith Immigration Ltd has a fast-growing team and significant experience in the digital and technology sectors.

Immigration in South East

Birketts LLP

Led by Sacha Wooldridge following the July 2021 departure of Clare Hedges, Birketts LLP‘s immigration team works across the firm’s Norwich, Ipswich, Chelmsford and Cambridge offices to act for clients across the South East and beyond. The firm predominantly focuses on business work, with particular experience in procuring skilled worker visas and supporting clients in the farming and agricultural sector. Chelmsford-based practitioner Janice Leggett is a key contact, with a niche specialism in advising clients in the advertising sector on how to bring film crews to the UK. The team is also adept at handling personal immigration matters, including spouse visas, citizenship applications, and global talent visas for entrepreneurs.

Practice head(s):

Sacha Wooldridge

Other key lawyers:

Janice Leggett

Testimonials

‘Birketts are extremely professional, responsive, and helpful. They are experts in immigration law. I have complete confidence in them. I feel safe in their hands. I trust them implicitly. Over the years, they have helped me with my immigration applications in extremely challenging situations (e.g. obtaining work visas in very short periods of time). Birketts’ legal advice is top-notch and cost-effective; it represents excellent value for money. Birketts bring a humane approach and a personal touch to the practice of immigration law.’

‘I was particularly impressed by Sacha Wooldridge.’

‘Very recently, I had to secure my Indefinite Leave to Remain visa in order to take up a post at a different university. I had only about a month in which to obtain my ILR visa. This was in January, 2022, a time of unprecedented uncertainty and change, a time when the Home Office had a crushing backlog due to COVID-related shortage of staff. Thus, obtaining the ILR visa in time seemed like a very challenging undertaking. However, true to form, Janice Leggett at Birketts got the job done, and helped me secure my ILR visa in near record time. I cannot express my gratitude warmly enough to Janice and Birketts. My life would be very different if it weren’t for them. I owe them a massive debt of gratitude. They are performing a great service for foreigners like me who have chosen to live and work in the UK.’

‘They are unique because of the efficiency and dedication they showed to their client.’

‘There are 2 things this practice does that makes them stand out 1. Simplifying the Complex: Immigration applications can be a complex and intimidating process, but Birketts’ team (led by Janice) has always made the entire process very simple for me. Their accompanying documentation and emails always make things a breeze for me. 2. Approachability: No question to small or big, no matter what I have on my mind, I can ask them for clarification, confirmation etc. Other firms that I have worked with before do not offer such care and attention to detail.’

‘Janice Leggett is a gem of a human being, she has always been there for me throughout the years as an immigration adviser. Even when I was almost scammed in an immigration fraud and I reached out to her out of the blue for advice, she was there to answer my questions, and even gave me advice. This makes her a rare breed. I am so grateful that I have had the distinct pleasure of working with her (and her wonderful team) who are approachable and ever so helpful.’

‘Very approachable, so helpful, could not fault.’

Key clients

Advertising Producers Association

GB Ingredients Limited

Muntons PLC

Trim Editing Limited

Apolitical

NIAB

RAND Europe CIC

TTP Group plc

Brady Trading Limited

Hanover Investors Management LLP

Nottingham Forest FC

GTC Infrastructure/Power On Connections

New Dawn Risk

Frontier Developments Plc

Work highlights

  • Advising APA members on a variety of issues, largely concerning film crews entering the UK for short term film projects, either using the visitor rules or through sponsored employment.
  • Advised TTP Group Plc following a restructuring to achieve a new sponsor licence which included the transfer of existing sponsored workers to the new licence.

Clarkslegal LLP

Headed by Monica Atwal in Reading, Clarkslegal LLP‘s immigration team is well known for its work across the full spectrum of business immigration issues. Atwal specialises in assisting businesses with the global transfer of staff and their families, especially at director-level; she also has a niche focus on assisting entrepreneurs, investors and overseas companies wanting to set up and operate in the UK market. Her work in this area assists clients from start to finish, from procuring visas for individuals representing overseas parent companies to finalising large-scale staff transfers. Associate Rebecca Hone, who joined the team in April 2021 and splits her time between the London and Reading offices, is another key contact.

Practice head(s):

Monica Atwal

Other key lawyers:

Rebecca Hone

Testimonials

‘The team at Clarkslegal LLP are responsive and helpful, no matter the level of the query. The Immigration team is appointed to work on our behalf to ensure compliance with legislation and they proactively manage this for us, keeping us informed of upcoming changes or key dates that we need to be aware of. I never have to worry about missing something or overlooking important information. I am always clear on the scope of work that is being carried out, how many hours of somebody’s time we are getting and what deliverables we can expect.’

‘I really appreciate Rebecca Hone’s clear, concise advice on immigration matters. In supporting us, Rebecca has given us total confidence that we are compliant and meeting requirements.’

‘The team has a good breadth of knowledge.’

‘Excellent knowledge and information given in a range of ways, depending on the situation.’

Key clients

Jardine Motors Group UK Limited

Tetra Tech Inc

Mishipay Ltd

United for Global Mental Health

Work highlights

  • Providing full immigration support to Tetra Tech Inc., a leading Australian geotechnical engineering company that was acquired by a £multi-billion tech giant, as well as training the client’s HR team in relation to sponsor duties, the sponsorship management system, and how to carry out the prescribed right to work checks.
  • Advising a leading leading automotive dealers with operations in the UK and the Far East, including Hong Kong, the PRC and Macau, on various immigration issues, including assisting in connection with the international transfer of members of staff from Hong Kong to the UK.
  • Advised MishiPay, a global leader in scan and go technology, on obtaining a sponsorship licence and advising on the sponsorship of software engineers from India.

Duncan Lewis Solicitors

Duncan Lewis Solicitors fields a sizeable and experienced team of immigration lawyers from its offices in Harrow, Milton Keynes and Luton. The team focuses on personal immigration, and handles high-stakes matters in the areas of human rights, detention, asylum, and civil liberties, with significant experience acting on judicial review cases. Multiple lawyers in the team have experience arguing before the High Court, Court of Appeal, and Supreme Court, including Toufique Hossain, Bahar Ata, Tamana Aziz and Rohena Wallace. Hossain’s clients included survivors of torture, sexual abuse and trafficking, while Wallace is especially recognised for her expertise in European rights law, prison law and terrorism cases. Ahmed Aydeed and Zofia Duszynska are also highly recommended.

Practice head(s):

Bahar Ata; Toufique Hussain

Other key lawyers:

Ahmed Aydeed; Rohena Wallace; Tamana Aziz; Vicash Ramkissoon; Zofia Duszynska

Testimonials

‘The breadth and depth of the team makes Duncan Lewis a real market leader for immigration matters. They have capacity across varying levels of seniority, and can act in all aspects of complex asylum, immigration, trafficking and detention matters. They are committed to acting for their vulnerable client base, and holding the state to account, even in a challenging political and financial climate.’

‘The team are committed and passionate about the work that they do. They are a credit to the profession.’

‘A large public law team that responds quickly to potential legal challenges. They are innovative and courageous, working with some of the best barristers and regularly achieving significant and meaningful legal success.’

‘Duncan Lewis are one of the most successful and effective large immigration practices in the UK, working across the range of immigration work. They have a significant presence within and beyond London and operate on a scale that no other firm in this area can match. In recent years they have, in particular, grown their work in the higher courts, acting in a significant number of test cases.’

‘Toufique Hussian and his team are fantastic to partner with on strategic work, and are always keen to take on matters relating to both public law and immigration. The members of his team really do fantastic work and are good at communicating both with their clients to keep them up to date. Toufique is very approachable and always makes himself available to discuss legal questions we may have as an organisation or potential ideas for strategic work.’

‘Bahar Ata is a true advocate for human rights and cares passionately about vulnerable members of society. Her commitment is second to none and she is a true leader in the field.’

‘Tamana Aziz – Incredibly experienced, has a wide breadth of knowledge and extremely good client care skills. She knows how to spot a good legal issue that has legs. Zofia Duszynska – passionate, whip smart, brilliantly organised, at the top of her game.’

Work highlights

  • Acted on a case that established discretionary leave to remain for recognised victims of trafficking seeking asylum in the UK.
  • Acting on a case to establish UK government responsibility for children stranded in detention camps in Syria who were deprived of their citizenship in circumstances but where the Home Office now accepts the deprivation orders left those individuals stateless.
  • Advised on a review culminating in the publication of changes to the Immigration and Asylum Specification of the Standard Civil Contract, which now sets out remuneration for legal aid providers to provide 30 minutes of free advice to an immigration detainee in prison without reference to their eligibility to legal aid.

Stevens & Bolton LLP

Stevens & Bolton LLP‘s immigration team is situated within its wider employment, pensions and immigration practice, and as such can draw on significant experience to provide comprehensive support to clients including well-known multinational businesses. Guildford-based team lead Kerry Garcia handles sponsor licence audits and issues arising from complex transactions, restructures and acquisitions. On the personal side, the practice advises on a range of matters including the EU settlement scheme, leave to remain, and naturalisation matters. Also recommended are managing associate Jackie Penlington and associate Nyasha Gardner, both also in Guildford.

Practice head(s):

Kerry Garcia

Other key lawyers:

Jackie Penlington; Nyasha Gardner

Testimonials

‘Stevens & Bolton LLP is on top of the requirement from end to end, it is evident that they are experts in immigration, and are updated with the latest rules and changes, giving you the tranquillity of knowing you are in good hands They contact you frequently to give you updates, or you can contact them in case of doubts.’

‘We have been working with Stevens & Bolton for years. They have a vast team of specialists who are always responsive and give clear advice. They are practical and friendly and build up good relationships with clients. Due to their wide expertise within the firm, advice is available across the board and so there is never a need to seek alternative 3rd party advice. They are fully up to speed with all current technology and have multiple communication channels. The billing is timely and very reasonable and the team is always upfront on any exceptional fees that are incurred.’

‘All partners and associates are very knowledgeable; efficient; well trained; proactive; friendly; very responsive; and always give good practical advice. The partners have been particularly good and will always direct any query to the relevant specialist person.’

‘Reliable, friendly, and work well as a team. There is always someone to pick up your query, you are never left in the dark.’

‘Stevens & Bolton provide simple to understand, practical advice in a complex area. They understand that as an in-house counsel, this is not an area of expertise and they are very good at identifying pragmatic solutions to managing immigration issues internally.’

‘Kerry Garcia, partner, is superb. Very hands on and practical, and clearly hugely knowledgeable.’ 

‘The team is very professional and approachable, I have worked with Jackie Penlignton, several times since 2011. She has helped me with all my visas here in the last 10 years. She is very clever and thorough, very precise, she is willing to explain the legal topics and immigration process and terminology, in different ways, until everything is understood 100%.’

‘As this is the first time I was immigrating, the process can be quite daunting. Working with Nyasha Gardner was an absolute pleasure as she walked me through the process from start to finish. She had set up numerous calls with me before each milestone of the visa process to ensure I was prepared for each step, and was an email away if needed.’

Key clients

Asahi International Ltd/Asahi Brands UK Limited/Asahi UK Ltd

Accord Healthcare Limited

BMI Group Holdings UK Limited

RBB Economics LLP

Anders Electronics Plc

Domino Data Lab Limited

Alvotech UK Ltd/Alvogen UK Ltd

Diebold Nixdorf (UK) Ltd

EverisConsultancy Limited

Veeam Software UK Limited

CFH Capital (UK) Limited YesDrift.com Europe Ltd

MQA Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Asahi in relation to all UK immigration matters, including numerous Skilled Worker applications. Advised on the immigration implications of various TUPE transfers, including the need to apply for a new sponsor licence.
  • Advised Accord Healthcare in relation to all UK immigration matters, including Skilled Worker and ICT applications and in relation to sponsor compliance, including conducting a mock audit.
  • Advised Nintendo on the issues to consider in relation to the end of free movement and in relation to their successful sponsor licence application. Also provided training and advice on sponsor compliance.

B P Collins LLP

B P Collins LLP‘s business immigration group is well regarded for its ability to provide its clients with a full commercial service, with notable experience in the architecture, manufacturing, finance and pharmaceuticals sectors. The team also advises on personal immigration, where it advises high-net-worth individuals and families on right to remain and citizenship applications. Practice head Chris Brazier also leads the cross-practice Brexit team, providing comprehensive advice on all aspects of EU-UK trade and immigration. Kathryn Fielder is well known for her in-depth sponsorship management experience, and solicitor Greg Clark is also recommended, especially for his work with private clients. All named lawyers are based in Gerrards Cross.

Practice head(s):

Chris Brazier

Other key lawyers:

Kathryn Fielder; Greg Clark

Testimonials

‘A very professional, polite & understanding partnership.’

‘Personable & flexible whilst always remaining prompt & punctual.’

‘B P Collins is a great mix between a City and a high street firm and occupies a unique place in the market due to the expectation that members of the team practice in both employment and immigration. This makes them well placed to represent both individuals and employers alike in matters where immigration and employment law overlap.’

‘Chris Brazier has a calm and measured manner which inspires confidence in clients and colleagues. Greg Clark is able to put nervous clients at ease whilst keeping on top of complex factual details and technical legal points, meaning he is well-liked by both lay clients and colleagues.’

Key clients

Vestel BV Holland

Ceva Animal Health Limited/ Ceva Sante

The Amtico Company Limited

MBS Lighting Limited

TranScrip Limited

Dentons

Headed up by Sarah Ingles-Carlyle from the London office, Dentons‘ immigration practice excels at providing business immigration advice for major corporate clients. Based in the Milton Keynes office and recently promoted to counsel, Verity Buckingham is a key contact, with significant expertise in applications for and administration of sponsor licences, including in relation to restructures, mergers and acquisitions. The firm is also active in the Home Office Business User Forum.

Practice head(s):

Sarah Ingles-Carlyle

Other key lawyers:

Verity Buckingham

Testimonials

‘Verity Buckingham is very responsive and explains complex topics in a clear way.’

Key clients

Banijay UK Limited

Drax Corporate Limited

Elliptic Enterprises Limited

Field Effect Software Inc

Fortna UK Limited

Galantas Irish Gold Limited

KCSGE Holdings Limited

Ocean Partners UK Limited

The Corporation of the Hall of Arts and Sciences

TUI UK Limited

United Artists Corporation Limited

Vectrus Mission Systems Ltd

Work highlights

  • Advised a client on updates to sponsor licence and intracompany transfers following a corporate restructuring.
  • Assisted a client with securing a sponsor licence and the recruitment of migrants into key roles.
  • Acting as an extension of a client’s HR team to undertake all immigration work.

DMH Stallard LLP

DMH Stallard LLP‘s team has a deep level of experience in business immigration, with team head Adam Williams providing long-term advice to numerous high-profile clients; he is especially well-versed in advising multinational clients on entering the UK market following Brexit and the end of free movement. The team has recently seen significant growth, and the recruitment of Bermeet Chhokar has enabled it to branch out from providing solely business immigration advice to advising individual clients, including a niche offering for cases where immigration status collides with domestic violence. The team draws on expertise from across the firm, including in employment and family law.

Practice head(s):

Adam Williams

Other key lawyers:

Bermeet Chokkar

Testimonials

‘Dealings in the main with Adam Williams. Incredibly proactive and able to provide solutions that mean client gets great service and answers to all problems in easy to understand steps.’

‘Adam Williams is very much the go to person for clients having immigration queries and requiring assistance through the process.’

Key clients

English National Opera

Wateraid

Frontline Aids

Fairvue Partners

Lactalis McLelland

Ambipar Response Limited

Sinch

Westcon Group

Work highlights

  • Advised an international engineering business based in Bulgaria on the transfer of more than 40 workers to the UK to provide installation services for the construction of a new large scale solar power plant.
  • Advised the English National Opera in relation to Skilled Worker visa sponsorship for critical management roles and on the visa sponsorship of performers under the T5 (Creative) visa route.
  • Advised US post-production accounting company, Trevanna INC., on the extension of a ‘Representative of an Overseas Business’ visa for its head of UK operations.

Fisher Jones Greenwood LLP

Under the leadership of Ashlee Campbell, Fisher Jones Greenwood LLP's 'professional, kind and friendly' Colchester-based team has a particularly strong reputation for public law litigation and legal aid work, especially in relation to children in care, unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, and victims of trafficking. The practice has a close relationship with authorities and social services in Norfolk and Suffolk, and Campbell has litigation experience before both the immigration tribunals and the High Court.

Practice head(s):

Ashlee Campbell

Testimonials

‘The team at Fisher Jones Greenwood are admirably efficient, thorough, and effective. They manage many complex and challenging cases where clients present with complex needs and complex histories, and navigate the challenges such cases present diligently and carefully. Their results reflect the commitment and acumen the team display. They are excellent.’

‘Ashlee Campbell leads the team. She manages an extraordinarily diverse and extensive practice with poise. She is assiduous in her case preparation, and robust and compassionate when managing clients, depending on what the occasion and their needs demand. Her knowledge of the law and her judgement on merits are exemplary. She is a stand out practitioner.’

‘Professional, kind and friendly.’

‘Ashlee Campbell is simply outstanding. There are very few lawyers in the country as committed as well as expert in offering the highest quality representation to unaccompanied asylum seekers. Nothing is too much or too hard to do to advance her client’s case – a matter not at all easy in the context of publicly funded asylum and immigration. Her clients are lucky to have her! Her team of paralegals and solicitors consistently produce the highest quality work under her guiding hand.’

‘Ashlee Campbell always makes sure everything is in order and keeps us up to date on the application process.’

‘Ashlee Campbell is a real leader of the team. She has broad expertise and is able to impressively manage a high workload as well as identify strengths and weaknesses quickly. The practice are able to work at all stages of a claim, including with local authorities, to obtain the best result.’

Key clients

Suffolk Social Services

Norfolk Social Services

Turpin & Miller LLP

Based in Oxford, Turpin & Miller LLP combines a growing employment-related practice with niche offerings for legal aid and prestigious individual clients. Founding partner and team lead Philip Turpin has a wealth of experience, and maintains long-term relations with the University of Oxford and institutions and individuals connected to it. Tom Giles is renowned for his work on complex cases, especially those involving detained clients, which he assists through his leading role in the Huntercombe Prison project, providing advice and assistance to imprisoned foreign nationals. Head of family immigration subteam Jo Renshaw is a respected authority on immigration law, while Alex Piletska is developing a reputation in family and human rights cases, in addition to establishing and managing the cross-firm Ukraine Advice Project.

Practice head(s):

Philip Turpin

Other key lawyers:

Tom Giles; Jo Renshaw; Alex Piletska

Testimonials

‘Excellent team of impressive individuals – best immigration firm in Oxford without a doubt. The team are hard working, compassionate and true experts in their field. Very impressed by the quality of their work. Nothing is ever too much. Clients represented by this firm should count themselves very lucky. The quality of work and dedication to each and every client is exceptional.’

‘Consistently excellent team across the board.’

‘Turpin Miller are an exceptional firm with an unwavering commitment to vulnerable clients. Very strong on immigration with a team which is both responsive and proactive in complex matters.’

‘Philip Turpin is very knowledgeable and flexible. He will support our request but will point out alternatives that may be better. When we have a tricky problem, Philip is the person we want offering us advice.’

‘Tom Giles provides an outstanding service to his clients. He has an excellent knowledge of refugee and human rights law and is committed to ensuring the best possible outcome for his clients. He provides an excellent service to vulnerable asylum seekers and migrants and is willing to take novel points of law in order to further his clients’ cases.’

‘Tom Giles and Jo Renshaw stand out for me and they are doing a great job training up, supervising and mentoring their staff in their own excellent image.’

‘Stand out partner: Jo Renshaw. Hard working, thorough (and deep) understanding of the law. A bit of a legend to be honest!’

‘Alex Piletska worked with us, under the guidance of Phillip Turpin, every step of the way taking a personal interest in not only guiding us but also supporting me through a very emotional time with patience and empathy. She went over and above her duty to support us throughout. I cannot praise her enough.’

Key clients

The University of Oxford

Oxfam GB

Work highlights

  • Represented a client who was born in the UK without British citizenship in a successful seven-year fight to avoid deportation, ending in the Upper Tribunal.
  • Represented hundreds of individuals facing deportation through a unique project based at HMP Huntercombe, providing specialist legal advice to foreign national prisoners facing deportation or prolonged immigration detention.
  • Advised the University of Oxford on a wide range of immigration matters, including in relation to sponsorship, Global Talent, nationality and latterly rights of EU academics and their families.

IBB Law

Headed up by Richard Devall, who splits his time between the firm’s Reading and Uxbridge offices, IBB Law‘s immigration team advises business and personal clients on matters including sponsor licencing and management issues, entry clearance and leave to remain matters, and work visas for private clients. Devall is supported by associate Jasmin Dhillon, who focuses on personal visa applications.

Practice head(s):

Richard Devall

Other key lawyers:

Jasmin Dhillon

Testimonials

‘The team provides pragmatic and commercial advice in a timely fashion. We would very much recommend this team for immigration advice.’

‘The team is diverse, with good numbers to offer a good service and at a very reasonable cost. They make good use of technology and are always available for an e-meeting. They really are client focused and are a pleasure to work with.’

‘They are down to earth. It is so comforting to receive that human touch. One feels truly cared for.’

‘Very knowledgeable about the subject.’

‘Friendly and approachable.’

Key clients

Avata UK Limited

Ballistic Moon

Link Theory (UK) Ltd

Give Back Yoga Foundation

Work highlights

  • Advised a client on the scope of the 2017 Concession to the Immigration Rules for offshore wind workers and the relevant visa routes for the engineers (of differing nationalities).
  • Advised a client on the engagement of self-employed freelancers from various overseas jurisdictions and the EU Settlement Scheme.
  • Advised a client on a sponsor licence application.