A woman went back to her husband who had previously been violent to her, and it was at least partly because she couldn’t find anyone to make her application for indefinite leave to remain under the domestic violence rules within the timescale required, and she panicked and went back him. So that means that a rule that’s expressly there to protect people from serious harm was left ineffective because of the lack of access to immigration advice. But it is less visible than in the criminal justice system. In criminal work, the trial gets listed and then it gets postponed. Here in immigration and asylum, it’s more that the application never gets made.
As Dr Jo Wilding tells me on the podcast this week, there are all sorts of problems with the provision of advice to migrants about their legal rights. The consequences are often next to invisible, but no less dire for all that: my other guest, Naomi Blackwell of Jesuit Refugee Service UK, recalls meeting a man in immigration detention who had not seen a lawyer for three years.
Those interested in learning more about these problems — and, more importantly, the solutions to them — can do so via Jo’s new book on The Legal Aid Market: Challenges for Publicly Funded Immigration and Asylum Legal Representation. See also the Law Society’s new map of immigration legal aid deserts in England and Wales.