Immigration pricing

Investing in specialist immigration advice will enable you to make an informed decision as to how to proceed. It could also prevent you from making costly mistakes or missing opportunities. If you need advice on UK visas and immigration, contact our expert team of immigration solicitors today. Our team is headed by Vladimir Mikeljevic, who has been practising immigration and asylum law since 1996. He provides an exceptional standard of service, which can be seen in the comments we have received from our previous clients and immigration judges.

We understand how important it is for our clients to know exactly how much our services are going to cost from the outset. At Levi Solicitors LLP, we are proud to be transparent on pricing. Information about our fees, the typical timescales and stages are set out below.

 

Please do not forget that you are purchasing services rather than a product and that there are a number of ways in which your application can be prepared, which will affect the fees incurred, the possible outcome of your application, and your overall satisfaction with the services provided. Your application will either be successful, or it will be refused/rejected. Unfortunately, many applicants who satisfy the relevant requirements still end up with their applications being refused simply due to poor preparation.

A significant part of Vladimir’s work in respect of preparing your application will be spent ensuring that it is prepared to the highest standard and that no corners are cut. We will take your full instructions, carefully check all of your supporting documents, draft a detailed covering letter and create a fully-indexed and paginated copy bundle of documents, which will be submitted in support of your application. The covering letter will usually comprise about 5 pages. It will present your relevant personal circumstances in detail and explain how you satisfy the applicable requirements. In addition, the covering letter will clearly explain why each of the supporting documents is submitted and what it proves. The letter will also contain precise references to the pages where each of these documents can be found in the bundle (this is why we prepare a fully-indexed and paginated copy bundle). This way of preparing your application will greatly assist the decision-maker (i.e. Entry Clearance Officer or the Home Office) when processing the same and should eliminate the risk of the decision-maker failing to find a particular document, failing to understand why a particular document has been submitted or what it tries to prove, or misunderstanding the documents. Please do not forget that while you may know exactly why you are submitting particular documents in support of your application, this may be far from obvious to the Entry Clearance Officer or the Home Office especially as they have little time to try to understand everything. This is why mistakes by decision-makers, which may result in refusals, are far from uncommon. According to the Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency’s report on entry clearance decision-making, in a third of the cases sampled, errors were identified in the way in which evidence was assessed by Entry Clearance Officers, and one can only conclude that it is similar with the applications processed by the Home Office caseworkers.

Preparing a fully-indexed and paginated copy bundle also prevents situations where the decision-maker may refuse an application alleging that a particular document has not been submitted in support of your application, as all documents will be individually and precisely listed (e.g. not just as ‘Bank statements’ or ‘Utility bills’ but as ’Mr xxx Barclays bank statement numbers xxx covering the period between xxx and xxx (originals)’ or ‘Mr xxx British Gas bill dated xxx (original)’, etc) and paginated, thus eliminating any misunderstanding as to what has been submitted.

The Home Office caseworkers and Entry Clearance Officers have limited time only to process your application. Vladimir’s detailed covering letter in combination with a fully-indexed and paginated copy bundle will enable them to process your application quickly and reduce the risk of misunderstanding. At the same time, this approach is very likely to put a smile on their face when they see how well your application is prepared and how easy it will be for them to process it.

You may hear that there is no requirement to submit any covering letter or a paginated copy bundle. This is true. However, apart from a very limited number of the ‘specified documents’, the Immigration Rules do not usually require you to submit any particular document but leave it entirely to you to prove your case. Please do not forget that the burden of proof is on you and it is not for the decision-maker to build or investigate your case for you. If you fail to properly present and explain your case or prove that you satisfy the relevant requirements, your application is likely to be refused.

Our aim is to ensure that your application has the best possible prospects of success and this is why we have a remarkable success rate. Therefore, wherever possible, we will make sure that we reduce or eliminate a risk of refusal. If there is an issue that potentially can endanger the outcome of your application, we will inform you accordingly and advise what needs to be done to resolve it rather than ignore it in the hope that everything will turn out fine. We are there to ensure that your application is successful rather than to simply prepare and submit it. A refusal of an application may have severe detrimental effects on your ability to come to or live in the UK and we do not like playing with peoples’ lives or taking unnecessary risks.

If you intend to make an application and can attend our office in Leeds city centre, Vladimir can always book a free consultation for you in order to show you samples of his covering letters and further explain how thoroughly he will prepare your application, so that you can make an informed decision in respect of what you should expect an immigration solicitor to do on your behalf and whom you wish to instruct.

Once your application is submitted, some further work will be required. Where appropriate, the Home Office will correspond with either you or us asking you to enrol biometrics, to request further information or documents, to inform you about the outcome of your application, to return your supporting documents, to arrange your citizenship ceremony, etc. You can either decide to communicate directly with the Home Office in respect of these matters or ask Vladimir to do so on your behalf. If you ask Vladimir to do so and unless there are complications or delays, this post-submission work is likely to involve a further 1-2 hours of work (1-5 hours in nationality cases).

Vladimir’s hourly rate is £280 (plus VAT in the sum of £56 if applicable – see below*). His fee estimates for typical cases in respect of various immigration applications are as follows:

* Whether or not VAT should be added to our fees depends on your personal circumstances and we will advise you accordingly at the outset of the case. In general, if you are a non-EEA/EU national and reside outside the EEA/EU, or if you are in the UK with leave to enter/remain granted for up to 6 months or have no leave at all, you will most likely not need to pay VAT.

Our service in respect of preparing your application within the above-quoted estimated prices will include the following:

  • Our initial conference (in person or by telephone) to take your instructions (i.e. relevant information) that usually lasts about 1½-2 hours. During this conference we will discuss the circumstances of your case in detail, inform you about the relevant immigration requirements you will need to satisfy, identify any potentially problematic areas, and advise you about the best way forward;
  • Communicating with you by phone, email and/or in person as you prefer;
  • Confirming your full instructions in writing so that you can check what we have noted down and inform us of any errors or amendments that you wish to make (this is very important as we will use these notes to draft a thorough covering letter to the Entry Clearance Officer/Home Office and if this letter contains any incorrect information you may be accused of misrepresentation or deception, which will automatically result in refusal and will have a detrimental effect on any future application);
  • Providing a list of documents that you should forward to us in support of your application. This list will depend on your instructions as your supporting documents need to corroborate your instructions;
  • Carefully perusing and assessing each document that you provide in order to ensure that that the document is adequate and useful (rather than damaging the application), and that the application benefits from it;
  • Advising what to do about the documents that may not be adequate or appropriate;
  • Preparing an approximately 5-page long covering letter to the Entry Clearance Officer/Home Office explaining your and, if relevant, your family’s relationship/immigration/employment/financial history or circumstances, how you and your family satisfy each of the relevant requirements, and anything else that may be important to you and your family’s application and needs to be explained or clarified;
  • Preparing a bundle containing original supporting documents, together with an additional fully indexed and paginated copy bundle of the same documents that the covering letter will refer to and which will enable the Entry Clearance Officer/Home Office to quickly and correctly identify particular documents;
  • Checking and, if necessary, amending the application form(s);
  • Submitting the application or guiding you as to how to do so (e.g. in case of online applications, etc);
  • Advising on timelines and the outcome of your application together with further steps you need to take.

An example of an estimated time to prepare applications for spouses, partners, dependant relatives, or Tier 1 Entrepreneurs at the lower level of the estimate is, as follows:

1½ hours: Taking your detailed instructions

1½ hours: Confirming your instructions in writing and providing a list of supporting documents

3 hours: Perusing supporting documents and resolving any issues in respect of the same

6 hours: Preparing a covering letter and a fully-indexed and paginated copy bundle of supporting documents

1 hours: Checking and, if necessary, amending your application form(s)

2 hours: Communicating with you (email, phone, etc.)

15 hours TOTAL

The above fee estimates do not include disbursements, which are costs related to your case but payable to third parties, and expenses incurred in respect of your case. These may include application fees payable to the Home Office or the Entry Clearance Officer, Immigration Health Surcharge, interpreting/translating fees, expert fees (e.g. medical or country experts), courier fees, mileage and travel expenses if you need to attend the Home Office and ask us to accompany you, etc. They also do not include fees in respect of accompanying you to present your application in person or to attend an interview at the Home Office, or advice and assistance in relation to any appeal. However, wherever relevant, we will provide clear advice in respect of the costs of these disbursements/expenses and/or fees.

The above fee estimates in typical cases may, however, vary in cases with special complications. This is why, once we learn about your particular circumstances, we will provide a clear and reasonable individual fee estimate at the outset of the case, taking into account the actual features of your case, together with an indication in respect of how much time we envisage we will spend in meetings and exchanging letters/emails and phone calls with you; how many documents we envisage perusing while preparing your case or to include in the bundle of documents to be submitted in support of your application; and how long we envisage a covering letter to be in your case. The estimate will depend on the particular circumstances of your case, including:

  1. Previous immigration history, especially refusals,
  2. The complexities of your case,
  3. Which languages you speak,
  4. Volume of supporting documents that we estimate that we will need to peruse,
  5. Whether your dependants are applying with you, etc.

Our actual fees may be higher than the estimate especially if:

  1. during the course of this matter we find that we need to be involved in further areas not covered by the original retainer, or
  2. if the matter does not run smoothly or encounters delays, or
  3. if the matter turns out to be more complicated than originally envisaged, or
  4. if you do not follow our advice, or
  5. if we spend longer in meetings than originally envisaged, or
  6. if, whilst dealing with your matter, we have to peruse more documents than originally envisaged, or
  7. if the bundle of documents prepared in support of your application comprises more pages that originally envisaged, or
  8. if the covering letter prepared in support of your application is longer than originally envisaged, or
  9. if we spend more time on phone calls and/or letters/emails than originally envisaged.

If any of the above circumstances occur, then we will return to you to revise the estimate.

Different immigration representatives will have different approaches to preparation of applications. Not every application will be successful and, unfortunately, applications are often refused or rejected due to poor preparation.

It is of a crucial importance that you instruct a representative that has the required expertise to assist with your case. According to The Guardian ‘Home Office officials have made more than 5,700 changes to the immigration rules since 2010…making the visa system nearly impossible to navigate, according to senior judges and lawyers’: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/aug/27/revealed-immigration-rules-have-more-than-doubled-in-length-since-2010. Vladimir practises Immigration law only, which allows him to keep up on top of these changes and maintain his expertise.

Furthermore, it is also vital that you instruct a representative who will spend sufficient time to prepare your application and/or appeal. You should not instruct someone simply because they offer a low quote. A low quote usually means that less time will be spent preparing your application and appeal. You should, therefore, always ask your prospective representative to explain to you and confirm in writing how much they plan to spend in meetings with you, communicating with you by email or phone, and preparing your application/appeal. If they are evasive or refuse to do so, that could mean that they do not want you to know how little time they intend to spend on your case. If, on the other hand, despite the low quote they reassure you that you will be able to see and contact them as often as you need to and that they will spend as much time as required to prepare your case, you should think carefully whether their low quote can really cover such work and whether these are just empty promises. In their article about unscrupulous immigration representatives, The Independent referred to the High Court ruling that some ‘solicitors were instructing paralegals and unqualified people to draft applications which fall “well below acceptable standards” and which judges must reject as “unarguable and totally without merit”. Some ‘are failing to include relevant evidence provided to them by clients in court submissions, making their claims unwinnable simply because important facts are omitted’: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/immigration-solicitors-exploit-migrants-rogue-substandard-lawyers-a8325706.html.

We are regularly contacted by those whose cases were seriously damaged or destroyed due to poor preparation or advice, as a consequence of which they have lost their chances to stay in the UK, obtain permanent residence, work in the UK, become British citizens, or have received immigration bans, etc. Many of them believe that the Home Office and the Tribunal will be sympathetic to their misfortune and grant their fresh applications/appeals because it is clear that they have received poor advice. However, in case of Mansur (immigration adviser’s failings: Article 8) Bangladesh [2018] UKUT 00274 the Upper Tribunal indicated that ‘a person who takes such advice will normally have to live with the consequences’: https://tribunalsdecisions.service.gov.uk/utiac/2018-ukut-00274-iac. Therefore, we cannot stress enough how important is that you carefully choose the representatives you are going to instruct to assist with your case.

In order to reduce the time they spend on your case and, therefore, justify their lower and/or fixed fees, some unscrupulous immigration representatives may employ the following practices, which may increase the risk of refusal:

  1. Rather than spending sufficient time to collect your instructions in full and fully investigate possible problematic areas, they may take your brief and basic instructions only, which may result in an oversight of a non-obvious problematic issue;
  2. They may submit the supporting documents you forward to them without fully checking them and/or without alerting you to any problems with the documents.  As a result, you will not be advised about how to best select, improve, augment, present or explain your documents so as to avoid any negative issues the documents individually or collectively may create for your case;
  3. They may not draft a detailed covering letter or may prepare one which mainly contains non-specific and general information referring to caselaw that is copied and pasted from one case to another. The main purpose of such letters is to ‘impress’ you rather than the Entry Clearance Officer/Home Office. However, any failure to provide clarifications and explanations that are essential in your particular case may result in the failure of the Entry Clearance Officer/Home Office to properly understand your circumstances, or in misunderstandings, both of which may endanger the outcome of your application;
  4. They may be difficult to approach and you may not be able to talk to or contact them when you need to. Some of them may not even include time to communicate with you in their fixed fee, which should be taken as a strong indication that they will try to avoid any contact with you and may always be ‘unavailable’. As a result, you may not be able to alert them to any problems and/or may become unnecessarily stressed and frustrated with the process;
  5. They may submit your application without providing a draft for your approval, running the risk of submitting incorrect information, which may result in you being accused of making misrepresentations and/or deception;
  6. They may do everything at the last minute in order to avoid spending extra but necessary time correcting mistakes or clarifying issues (as you will not be aware of such mistakes/issues or there will be no time left to amend them), which in turn may endanger the outcome of your application;
  7. They may pass the conduct of your matter to their junior and less experienced colleagues without your knowledge.

Vladimir’s thorough and detailed approach to preparing an application ensures that no corners are cut and that the risk of refusal is minimised by reducing the possibility of the Entry Clearance Officer/Home Office misunderstanding or failing to understand relevant points and/or documents. This results in his exceptional success rate.

Vladimir will personally deal with your case from beginning to end, and you will have his direct telephone number and, of course, his email address, so that you can always have direct access to him (rather than his secretary/assistant). In practice, you will never have to call Vladimir twice or send two emails before hearing from him, as he always replies quickly to calls and emails. Vladimir will always keep you informed about progress and will ensure that your case is processed in a timely manner with sufficient time spent to make necessary amendments.

With lengthy delays and uncertainties in respect of appeals (if available at all), it is extremely important that applicants put their full efforts in their application as they may not have a second chance to do so or may face significant costs, delay and stress if pursuing their rights through the appeal process.

Vladimir aims to provide the highest quality service, be extremely responsive and directly accessed and promptly deal with your application. Therefore, a delay (if any) is likely to be caused by difficulties in obtaining certain documents or the inaction of the Entry Clearance Office/Home Office. If you have all relevant documents or once you produce them, we should normally be able to prepare your application within days. However, we will always discuss this with you.

The typical stages in respect of preparing your application are:

  1. Taking your detailed instructions
  2. Confirming your detailed instructions in writing and providing a list of documents that you should forward to us in support of your application
  3. Carefully perusing all your supporting documents and resolving any issues in respect of the same
  4. Preparing a covering letter to be submitted in support of your application
  5. Checking and, if necessary, amending your application form(s)
  6. Preparing a fully-indexed and paginated copy bundle of supporting documents to be submitted in support of your application
  7. Submitting your application or assisting you with submitting the same
  8. Informing you about the outcome and next steps.

In respect of how long it may take the Entry Clearance Officer or the Home Office to process your application, please read the current processing times: https://www.gov.uk/visa-processing-times.

Vladimir’s applications are very thoroughly prepared and he has an impressive success rate (please see above). Providing that you follow his instructions, it is therefore highly unlikely that an application prepared by Vladimir will be refused and that you will need to appeal. If this is not the case, Vladimir will inform you accordingly. However, he will also try to assist you if your application has been prepared by alternative representatives and refused. Vladimir will assess your case and inform you about any options that you may have and whether you should appeal against the refusal of prepare a fresh application (which may be quicker and easier to do, especially if your original application has not been prepared properly).

Preparing your appeal before the First-tier Tribunal

If, however, you need to appeal, Vladimir’s usual work in respect of preparing your appeal before the First-tier Tribunal will involve approximately 15 to 25 hours resulting in fees in the region of £4,200 and £7,000 (if applicable, plus VAT @ 20% i.e. in the region of £840-£1,400); please see above if VAT is likely to be payable). Vladimir’s fees will depend on how complex the issues in your appeal are, how many witnesses you have, whether or not we need to instruct an expert witness, volume of supporting documents, what languages you speak, etc.

Presenting your appeal in the First-tier Tribunal

Depending on the relevant issues, your appeal will be presented either by Vladimir or by a specialist immigration Counsel/barrister. If your appeal is to be presented by Counsel/barrister, we will recommend only highly-experienced and specialist immigration barristers. We will offer you a choice of at least two barristers and provide their credentials so that you can decide whom you wish to present your appeal. Their fees cover perusing your appeal papers, as prepared by Vladimir and forwarded to them, and presenting your appeal on the specified day. They tend to offer fixed fees, which vary depending on their experience and expertise but usually are between £750 and £1,500 (if applicable, plus VAT in the sum of £150-£300) to present your appeal before the First-tier Tribunal on a specified day. If you wish Vladimir to present your appeal, his fees will be charged at his standard rate of £280 per hour (if applicable, plus VAT in the sum of £56). His fees will depend on how much actual time he spends in respect of presenting your appeal and this could typically be between 2½ and 7 hours resulting in fees in the sum of £700 and £1,960 (if applicable, plus VAT in the sum of £140-£392, in these examples).

The above fee estimates do not include disbursements, which are costs related to your case but payable to third parties and expenses incurred in respect of your case. These may include appeal fees payable to the First-Tier Tribunal, interpreting/translating fees, expert fees (e.g. medical or country experts), mileage and travel expenses in respect of attending your appeal hearing, etc. However, wherever relevant, we will provide clear advice in respect of the costs of these disbursements and expenses.

Expert Advice

Vladimir Mikeljevic

PARTNER


T.  0113 297 3177
E.vladimir@levisolicitors.co.uk

Vladimir is a Level 3 (Immigration Law Advanced) Law Society accredited immigration solicitor.

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