Next Generation Partners

Firms To Watch: Immigration

The Wilkes Partnership has senior associate Pam Sidhu at the helm; she has been busy advising on an array of primarily business immigration matters for its employer and owner managed clients.

Immigration in West Midlands

Duncan Lewis Solicitors

Duncan Lewis Solicitors fields a large team that has significant expertise in immigration, asylum and judicial review claimant matters. It is recommended for its provision of publicly funded immigration services and regularly represents vulnerable clients who are victims of torture or trafficking in asylum and human rights matters, as well as assisting unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. Ahmed Aydeed  and Darren Middleton co-head the department.


‘Excellent strategic litigator at leadership level. Ahmed Aydeed- excellent strategic litigator, pleasure to deal with, very innovative thinking‘.

The Duncan Lewis Birmingham office has established a very strong reputation in immigration, led by Ahmed Aydeed. The team works collaboratively and efficiently and is involved in many high profile, leading cases which reflects its high standards and strong work ethic‘.

‘Ahmed Aydeed is highly innovative and has a real eye for spotting chinks in the immigration system that are vulnerable to challenge, and goes at them like an attack dog, to the benefit of his clients’.

‘Does a lot of immigration and public law work. Does that work to quite a high level’.

‘Great expertise re exploitation’.


Key clients

JM v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2021] EWHC 2514 (Admin) (04 October 2021)

KTT, R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2021] EWHC 2722 (Admin) (12 October 2021)

Mostafa Shahi v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2021] EWCA Civ 1676

TN (Vietnam), R. (on the application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department& Anor [2021] UKSC 41 (22 September 2021)

ZV (Lithuania) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2021] EWCA Civ 1196 (30 July 2021)

Work highlights

  • Advising on an important case whereby as a result of the decision, the law now means that many recognised victims of trafficking seeking asylum in the UK will be granted discretionary leave to remain.
  • Acting in a case that raised important issues in relation to the SSHD’s breach of their statutory duty in failing to provide adequate cash support payments to asylum seekers in full board accommodation.
  • Advising on a case whereby the High Court ruled that the government had unlawfully cut support during the pandemic for survivors of trafficking.

Sydney Mitchell LLP

Andre Minnaar  and Melissa Southall  at Sydney Mitchell LLP respectively specialise in immigration matters of a personal and human-rights based nature. The ‘professional and very knowledgeable‘ team advises on all types of entry clearance applications from abroad and in country applications, renewal applications and appeals.Minnaar, who is an experienced tribunal advocate, has a large LGBTQI following and has successfully represented many gay men and women and others in their asylum claims. Southall frequently advises on spouse visas, applications for children, asylum and on European applications to citizenship.

Practice head(s):

Andre Minnaar

Other key lawyers:

Melissa Southall


‘A very professional and approachable team that provides high quality advice covering a wide range of immigration issues including human rights, family reunion, the EU settlement scheme and the points based scheme for workers and students’.

‘Andre Minnar is outstanding, good at taking note, listening to clients and asking questions where needed. Doesn’t stress you out but creates a trusting relationship between us. He helped me on my statement using the right words and terminology. Andre makes you feel part of it all. Ready and willing to talk to you when you need it. He advice is priceless’.

‘Andre Minnaar has been brilliant to deal with. He is very responsive and knows the industry inside out and has always gone above and beyond in my dealings with him’.

‘Melissa Southall is an outstanding personality with a high degree of competence and professionalism. Her attitude towards clients is excellent’.

‘Melissa is very approachable, professional and supportive. Explained everything very clearly and never gets tired of calling her repeatedly for advice and support. Very much customer focused. Professional and willing to listen carefully as well as being very patient’.

I have instructed Melissa Southall for a number of immigration related matters and I have always found her work to be of an excellent standard. She provides thorough advice and is always responsive to any queries I have. She continually kept me up to date with the status of my cases and was friendly and approachable in delivering advice’.

‘The key strength of the team is that it has the experience to deal with the full breadth of personal immigration issues – more so than many of its competitors. Both Andre Minnaar and Melissa Southall are very personable and provide an excellent client service’.

Sydney Mitchell has a strong private immigration practice as it was founded by two very experienced practitioners, Andre and Melissa, who moved to the firm after successful careers elsewhere. Andre and Melissa are both excellent practitioners who work hard for their clients. Their preparation is meticulous and they are a pleasure to work for as a result – they make counsel’s job easier’.

Work highlights

  • Successfully applied for an administrative review of an elderly man on an ancestral visa, who was unable to prove employability.
  • Successfully appealed a refusal of entry clearance.
  • Successful in further asylum submissions for a Gambian family, where the mother had already been subjected to Female Genital Mutilation back in Gambia as a child, and so fled and did not want her daughters to be subjected to the same.


The thriving practice at VWV is led by Tom Brett Young and receives instructions from various employers spanning sectors such as financial services, healthcare, fashion, tech and charities. Its independent schools client portfolio continues to expand along with its HE offering. Other areas of growth include advising numerous multinational companies on diverse matters such as skilled worker sponsorship. Brett Young specialises in both business and personal immigration matters and is praised for his advice to employers and education providers on their compliance obligations. 

Practice head(s):

Tom Brett-Young

Other key lawyers:

Talitha Degwa


‘Great knowledge of the education sector means that it is able to tailor the immigration advice it provides to us and our schools. Tom Brett-Young is fantastic to work with: responsive; pragmatic, down to earth and capable. He somehow always manages to add value to even the most straightforward of queries’.

‘Thorough grasp of key business immigration issues and engaged with other professionals in the field. Committed and hardworking. Tom Brett Young – strong education sector knowledge, contributor to immigration advisory community. Talitha Degwa – sharp, well organised and a rising star’.

Work highlights

    Wright Hassall LLP

    Matthew Davies leads an established team at Wright Hassall LLP that has a strong client base in retail, advertising, food and other sectors such as confectionary, professional services and financial. The group also receives plaudits for its advice to leading law firms on their internal immigration issues. Davies is adept at dealing with cases where there is a cross-over between immigration and employment law. The group has been busy working with its colleagues in the corporate and employment departments on issues such as managed sponsor licence applications and advising on various sponsor migrant status matters.

    Practice head(s):

    Matthew Davies

    Other key lawyers:

    Tracie Udall


    ‘The team is always on hand to answer our questions, no matter how odd they might be! We have also been able to arrange Zoom calls with them to run through more complex matters with our whole HR team so that we all have a better understanding of the new immigration processes and Brexit. We usually deal with Tracie Udall (who is always great!)’.

    Very strong end to end immigration process, from initial advice to reviewing paperwork bundles for application appointments. I work very closely with Tracie Udall, she is extremely knowledgeable and helpful on all immigration matters‘.

    ‘Can always be relied upon to provide straightforward timely advice. Tracie Udall is always available and provides straightforward advice no matter the query – big or small. Always a pleasure to work with’.

    Work highlights

      Bevan Brittan LLP

      The immigration team at Bevan Brittan LLP is led by Ashley Norman. It is particularly known for its work with the NHS, healthcare and university sectors. Norman regularly advises a range of clients from different sectors on issues such as immigration compliance and audits, certificates of sponsorship and other issues such as right to work issues and Brexit-related queries. Senior associate Jaspal Basra has a particular focus on independent healthcare providers and NHS trusts.

      Practice head(s):

      Ashley Norman

      Other key lawyers:

      Jaspal Basra

      Key clients

      Royal Free NHS Trust

      Camden & Islington NHS FT

      David Koma Limited

      Stone House Home Limited

      Virgin Healthcare

      Local Authority

      Royal United Hospitals Bath

      Work highlights

      • Supporting a major NHS Trust: due to an administrative oversight the Trust missed the sponsor licence renewal process and their sponsor licence in the height of the global pandemic had not been renewed.
      • Instructed to secure Health Care Worker visas for senior care nurses from the Philippines. This included seeking written confirmation from Philippine Overseas Labour Office (POLO) that exemptions regarding the use of any Philippine Recruitment Agency apply in respect of direct recruits.
      • Provided advice in respect of the suitability of proposed qualifying investments by a client to its high-net-worth clients seeking to utilise the Tier 1 Investor Visa route into the UK. The advice consisted of evaluating the proposed investments against the criteria within the Home Office Tier 1 Investor Visa guidance around qualifying investments.

      Shakespeare Martineau LLP

      Tijen Ahmet , who divides her time between Birmingham and London, leads the practice at Shakespeare Martineau LLP. It acts for global businesses across a wide range of sectors from finance to manufacturing and retail. The group has specialist expertise in the education sector and frequently supports HR teams with new sponsor licence management issues to assist with the recruitment of skills from overseas and the prevention of illegal working practices in the UK. Michael Hibbs is the other key contact.

      Practice head(s):

      Tijen Ahmet

      Other key lawyers:

      Michael Hibbs

      Key clients

      Europe based insurance client

      Global food & plant-based foods client

      Luxury boutique hotel management client

      A higher education university

      Games manufacturing client

      Work highlights

      • Acting for one of the top ten largest European-based insurance companies in the world with all business immigration support from sponsor licence management, advising on day-to-day immigration compliance and global planning post Brexit. It also supports the client with skilled worker assignment and employee transfers to the UK.
      • Successfully representing a global food company client with sponsor licence application and subsequent appointment of senior non-UK staff with skilled worker visas. It advises the client with visa eligibility assessments and support their HR team with all business-related visas.
      • Acting for a luxury five-star boutique hotel chain to appoint senior management roles and manage business immigration from sponsor licence application to advising and supporting with skilled worker and intra company transfer visas.