Compliance – Top Reasons Why Immigration Firms Face SRA & OISC Shutdown

  Compliance – Top Reasons Why Immigration Firms Face SRA & OISC Shutdown

In recent times, there has been increased scrutiny and more stringent checks on immigration practices regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and Office of Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) for non compliance. 

These heightened measures have been implemented due to concerning examples of immigration advisors that the SRA and OISC have encountered and as reported in the press*.  Both the regulators have been particularly troubled by instances of immigration advisors potentially advising clients or prospective clients to fabricate information to support UKVI applications for asylum or leave to remain.

Both the SRA and the OISC have their own principles and codes of conduct to ensure that their regulatory objectives are met. These objectives include promoting best practices, setting clear standards, and ensuring consistent adherence to these values within the immigration advice sector.

We outline the key principles that form the foundation of best practices and serve as essential reminders for all immigration advisers under the SRA and OISC regulations. 

  SRA Principles for Immigration Advisors  

The SRA Principles sets out the fundamental ethical standards for all SRA-regulated individuals and firms. This includes solicitors, authorised firms, and their managers and employees. For licensed bodies, the principles apply to those involved in delivering regulated legal services, as per their licence terms.

The fundamental principles are as follows:

You must comply with the Principles and in particular in relation to immigration work.

Principle 1 – act in a way that upholds the constitutional principle of the rule of law and the proper administration of justice.
Principle 2 – act in a way that upholds public trust and confidence in the solicitors’ profession and in legal services provided by authorised persons.
Principle 4 – act with honesty
Principle 5 – act with integrity

In further extension of the above,

All Solicitors  must also comply with the relevant paragraphs in the Code of Conduct for Solicitors, RELs and RFLs and the Code of Conduct for Firms where applicable. For example:

paragraph 1.4 of the Code of Conduct for Solicitors, RELs and RFLs states that you must not ‘mislead, or attempt to mislead your clients, the court or others, either by your own acts or omissions or by allowing or being complicit in the acts or omissions of others (including your client)’.

paragraph 2 of the Code of Conduct for Solicitors, RELs and RFLs imposes obligations including:

    not misusing or tampering with evidence or attempting to do so (paragraph 2.1)

    not seeking to influence the substance of evidence (paragraph 2.2)

   only making assertions or putting forward statements, representations or submissions to the court or others which are properly arguable    (paragraph 2.4)

   not wasting the court’s time (paragraph 2.6)

paragraph 3 of the Code of Conduct for Solicitors, RELs and RFLs requires that:

   you ensure that the service you provide to clients is competent and delivered in a timely manner (paragraph 3.2)

   you maintain your competence to carry out your role and keep your professional knowledge and skills up to date (paragraph 3.3)

   you remain accountable for the work carried out through those that you supervise and manage and effectively supervise work being done    for clients (paragraph 3.5)

  you ensure that the individuals you manage are competent to carry out their role, and keep their professional knowledge and skills, as well    as understanding of their legal, ethical and regulatory obligations, up to date (paragraph 3.6)

  OISC Principles for Immigration Advisors

The Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) has established its own Code of Standards, which outlines the professional conduct and ethics expected of regulated immigration advisers and organisations when providing services to their clients.

Mirroring the structure of the SRA’s framework, the OISC has established its own set of 8 fundamental principles, which are outlined as follows:

Principle 1: Act in a way that upholds the Rule of Law and proper administration of justice.
Principle 2: Behave with honesty and integrity.
Principle 3: Comply with your legal and regulatory requirements to the OISC acting openly, promptly, and co-operatively.
Principle 4: Act competently and respect confidentiality
Principle 5: Act in the best interest of your client, deal with clients professionally and ensure they receive a good quality of service.
Principle 6: Maintain high standards of professional and personal conduct, ensure public trust and confidence in the OISC regulatory scheme, and do not bring the regulatory scheme into disrepute.
Principle 7: Treat everyone fairly and without prejudice.
Principle 8: Manage your business affairs and client records effectively.

  How to Implement SRA & OISC Compliance Standards in you Immigration Practice 

In response to growing concerns, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) issued a warning notice on 27 September 2023, which is applicable to law firms, solicitors, and other staff involved in providing immigration services to clients. The notice emphasises that all immigration practices regulated by the SRA must adhere to the principles laid out in the SRA’s standards and regulations.

These actions demonstrate the regulators’ unwavering dedication to safeguarding the public interest by ensuring the provision of top-quality legal services within the immigration practice sector.

To assist the immigration advisors in understanding their obligations towards the regulators better, HJT  brings you a live online course: COMPLIANCE FOR IMMIGRATION LAW FIRMS, a comprehensive course designed to provide a refresher on the regulatory framework and showcase examples of best practices.

Attendees will gain valuable insights into effectively implementing compliance measures and steering clear of common mistakes that can result in firm closures and individual disciplinary actions.

Considering the current regulatory landscape and the heightened scrutiny faced by immigration advisers, this course is crucial for all immigration advisors to safeguard their practices.
For more information on the course or to register, visit here For enquiries, contact or call us at: 075 4416 4692.

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