Immigration Advisory Service

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The Immigration Advisory Service[1] is a UK organisation registered as a charity,[2] providing direct legal assistance to refugees, asylum seekers and others needing advice and guidance around British immigration law. Founded in 1993, it was formed out of the former United Kingdom Immigrants Advisory Service. It is a national-wide charity with many offices throughout the UK. It derives its funding through donations as well as case funding from Legal Aid which is means tested. If a person does not qualify for Legal Aid as their means are too high, they offer a costs-only payment package depending on the level of advice needed. Cases which go on to the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal are also assessed on merit (whether the chance of success is at least 50%).

The charity's acting Chief Executive is Margaret McKinlay who recently replaced Keith Best following his move to the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture. The Chair of the Trustees is John Scampion.

The Immigration Advisory Service is a member organisation of the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE).

2008 was a particularly good year for the IAS. IAS lawyers succeeded in winning a number of high profile and far-reaching cases before the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal and higher courts including RN (Returnees) Zimbabwe CG [2008] UKAIT 00083, EB (Kosovo) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2008] UKHL 41, and HH (Criminal record; deportation: "war zone") Iraq [2008] UKAIT 00051. Kalvir Kaur of the IAS won the 2008 Immigration Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Award for her work with unaccompanied minors and victims of trafficking.

As of 11th July 2011 IAS went into unannounced administration, blaming government changes to Legal Aid. The Legal Services Commission said "During recent stewardship activities the LSC raised concerns around financial management and claims irregularities, which prompted IAS trustees to conclude that the organisation was no longer financially viable".[3] Major changes in legal aid for refugees and asylum seekers were made in 2007[4] and 2010.[5]

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