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Paragon Law and the University of Derby: The Immigration Family Reunion Clinic

Since 2019, the University of Derby has been running a Student Legal Advice Centre whereby law students (under the supervision of legal professionals) offer advice to the community. As part of a collaboration between ourselves and the British Red Cross, in 2021, this service developed an Immigration Family Reunion Clinic. 

About the Immigration Family Reunion Clinic

The Immigration Family Reunion Clinic is run by law students at the University of Derby, who under the supervision of legal professionals, provide free legal advice in regard to family reunion applications to refugees in the area who may not be able to access it otherwise. The purpose of this collaboration is to target those refugees who would not be eligible to receive legal aid funding, but do not have the funds to seek legal assistance, and so, in ‘normal’ circumstances go without.

The students at the University of Derby meet with refugees and assess whether they would be eligible to sponsor family members to the UK under the Family Reunion Immigration Rules. During this assessment the students gather a range of information which is passed on to our immigration solicitors and lawyers who assess whether the client’s family members who are outside of the UK would be eligible to join the client in the UK under the Family Reunion Immigration Rules. The students at the University of Derby then communicate the advice to the clients, and depending on the outcome, the students will start to assist the client to apply for Exceptional Case Funding from the Legal Aid Agency. This is an application for legal aid funding which is determined by the client’s eligibility against a set of means and merits criteria. If the application is successful and legal aid funding goes ahead, then a referral can be made to Paragon Law or to another immigration law firm who can undertake legal aid work to take conduct of the family reunion application.

Who benefits from the Immigration Family Reunion Clinic?

To be eligible for the UK family reunion, individuals must have refugee status or humanitarian protection which was issued before the 28th June 2022. For those individuals who have been issued with either Group 2 Refugee status or humanitarian protection on or after the 28th June 2022 face restrictions on their family reunion rights, and so, should seek legal advice.

The impacts of the Immigration Family Reunion Clinic

The main impact of this collaboration is that refugees are able to access the legal advice and assistance which they otherwise would not. However, the whole concept of the Student Legal Advice Centre provides students with the invaluable opportunity of gaining real life practice skills before they have even graduated! By being part of this advice centre, law students at the University of Derby are able to attend to clients, take instructions, draft attendance notes, record client information, draft funding applications, complete Legal Aid forms, and work with organisations such as ourselves and the Legal Aid Agency. By being presented with this opportunity students at the University of Derby are able to bridge the gap between their theoretical knowledge of the law and how this is applied in practice. As a law firm, this partnership is very beneficial to ourselves as not only does it increase our number of referrals, but the students can help us to speed up the process by assisting with the Exceptional Case Funding form for the Legal Aid Agency.

How you can benefit from the Immigration Family Reunion Clinic

If you are a refugee in Derby (or surrounding areas) who wishes to bring family members to the UK then you may be able to benefit from the University of Derby’s Student Legal Advice Centre. To book an appointment to gain free immigration advice then you must either email the Student Legal Advice Centre or the British Red Cross (Derby branch).