Immigration Casework

Latest revision: 13 July 2011

Updated 14 December 2015

We are very grateful to Melanie Gower (Senior Researcher in the Commons Library covering asylum, immigration and nationality issues) for her help in revising and updating this guide.

It should be read alongside a very useful Standard Note (SN) from the Commons Library: Constituency casework: immigration, nationality and asylum’.  This, and other essential items, is available from their very useful Constituency Casework Toolkit on the intranet: and many are now accessible from the public Parliament website as well.  For example, the asylum, immigration and nationality ‘topics’ pages on the Parliament website:

We also have this very kind offer from Melanie Gower, repeated again this month: “I’m happy to help MPs’ staff with general queries they may have on how to approach immigration and asylum casework or policy matters where I can.  I’m on ext. 6166 or can be tracked down via the internal email address list.   I’m always willing to meet up with Members’ staff when they are in Westminster for an informal chat if it might help – especially for new members of staff.”  Most caseworkers are constituency-based so, if you are planning a trip to Westminster, do contact Melanie in advance.

This guide does not deal with asylum casework.  If this guide has been useful to you, you may also wish to look at the W4MP guide: Asylum Casework.

2. Immigration Advisory Service (IAS) archive – limited file retrieval service 

Added: 15 March 2012

At a hearing – 27 February 2012 – of the Joint Administrators’ application for directions as to what to do with the files that were in the Immigration Advisory Service (IAS) archive at the time when IAS went into administration, the Chief Registrar, Mr Registrar Baister, ordered that a retrieval period be opened, until 28 May 2012, during which former IAS clients can request their files from the archive.

Please bring this information to the attention of any of your constituents with whom you are in touch who are former IAS clients  and with community organisations and lawyers who may be in touch with such constituents.

The Order of Mr Registrar Baister, the Administrators’ notice and the application form for retrieving a file can be found at: This resource is public.

ILPA (Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association) intervened in the proceedings and report as follows:

“We are enormously grateful to Sarah Robinson and Craig Montgomery of Freshfields and their colleagues and to Georgina Peters of South Square Chambers for the superb representation they provided pro bono which enabled us to participate in this case. We were successful in our arguments against the destruction of the files. We had argued for the files to be retained for the full six years but in all the circumstances (in private law cases the “there is no money” argument goes a long way we achieved much more than we ever dared expect in managing to get the three month retrieval period.”

If you need more information on any aspect of this, do get in touch with Alison Harvey at

Meanwhile, for the most recent Update and most recent Information Sheets provided by ILPA’s Information Service, see

3. Immigration Advisory Service 

Updated 13 July 2011

UPDATE JULY 2011: The IAS went into administration in July 2011.

The Immigration Advisory Service (IAS) is the UK’s largest charity providing confidential advice and representation in immigration, asylum and nationality law. These services are free to people who are eligible, but they also offer a fee-paying (non-profit) service. They are independent from the government, and have offices and advice surgeries across the UK and abroad.

The website contains advice about immigration and asylum law, and they have summaries in Urdu, Arabic, Pashtu, Russian, Portuguese and Turkish.

The IAS is regulated by the OISC (Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner) and is  subject to the Commissioner’s rules. With over 35 years of experience in giving advice about immigration and asylum law, it is also part of the Community Legal Service scheme.

For further information, please see the Immigration Advisory Service (IAS) website :