The immigration system in the UK is very complicated.
Children and young people with an immigration issue need to get legal advice. They should only get legal advice from a lawyer (a solicitor, barrister or a qualified immigration adviser).
Legal aid is government funded for some kinds of cases (for example, asylum) – it means that you don’t have to pay your lawyer. Find out more about legal aid here.
If you are in care, you shouldn’t have to pay for your lawyer. Your social worker or personal adviser should help you to get legal advice through a legal aid adviser.
If you are living with your family, you may need to get legal advice separately from them – this is because there are certain routes available for children and young people that aren’t open to adults.
The rules change when you turn 18. Some applications can only be made by children (those under 18) and others by under 25s. For more information on these routes, click here.
Finding a lawyer or immigration adviser
Finding a lawyer can seem difficult – here are some websites to help:
Delays in asylum claims and immigration applications
The UK government tries to consider immigration applications and asylum claims as soon as they can, but at the moment they are often taking a long time – many people are having to wait a year or more for decisions.
Home Office delays happen in all kinds of cases. It doesn’t mean you have made a mistake in your application or that there is anything wrong.
You can ask your lawyer about timescales and they can advise you on the process you are going through. If you are ever uncertain about what is happening with your case, you should talk to your lawyer.
Lawyers are often very busy. However, they should take the time to explain things to you. They should also keep you updated about your case.
If you have been waiting for a very long time, you should talk to your lawyer. If it has been more than 6 months, your lawyer can sometimes chase the Home Office for a response. If it has been more than 12 months, sometimes there are other legal actions they can take to speed things up.
You can also ask your lawyer about contacting your MP about significant delays in your case. Find your MP by entering your postcode here. If you decide to contact your MP, you should prepare as much information as possible – for example, important dates and reference numbers.
So long as you have been waiting for a long time (more than 6 months), chasing the Home Office is reasonable and should not cause a negative outcome on your case – so don’t be afraid to speak up if you are worried about the delay.
For more information about lawyers and legal aid, see our fact sheets here.
If you are confused about your immigration status, or if you think you do not have permission to stay in the UK, you should get legal advice soon.
You can contact Migrant Children’s Project: