Thousands of Londoners missing out on the immigration advice they need

June 20, 2021

A new report provides evidence about the scale and characteristics of demand for and supply of immigration legal advice in London. A Huge Gulf: Demand and Supply for Immigration Legal Advice in London was commissioned by the Justice Together Initiative and Paul Hamlyn Foundation, and was funded by the Greater London Authority.

The research estimates that there is capacity for just over 10,000 immigration and asylum legal aid ‘matters’, and a maximum of 4,500 pieces of specialist immigration casework outside of the scope of legal aid per year in London.

On the demand side, it is estimated that at least 238,000 people who are undocumented in London would be eligible to make an application to regularise their immigration status; 23,000 individuals need to extend their leave to remain; and an unknown number of EU citizens who do not apply for settled status before the deadline on 30 June 2021 will need specialist advice.

The report also identifies infrastructure challenges for the immigration advice sector, including a lack of trained advisors and a recruitment crisis.

The report was commissioned in the context of immigration laws that are increasingly complex to navigate for applicants and require specialist legal advice, while availability of legal advice has reduced significantly, due in large part to immigration being taken out of scope of legal aid. The lack of immigration advice in the capital is having serious consequences, forcing people into irregular status and into poverty.

The report explores the complex advice networks in the capital, and sets out a series of recommendations including improving the recruitment, training and retention of the immigration advice sector, increasing casework capacity and securing longer term sustainable funding for the sector.

Download the full report here