On 6 December 2018 the Solicitors Regulatory Authority introduced pricing transparency rules for certain areas of law meaning that law firms now have to publish some of their prices online. One of those areas is the preparation and submission of immigration applications.
Visas and immigration work, and the way in which it is priced, depends heavily on a number of key factors such as the nature and complexity of the query and the extent of the assistance required i.e. some clients require us to provide full support throughout any process, whereas others prefer to progress matters, so far as possible, on their own and then use DWF as a "sounding board" to clarify points of uncertainty.
Therefore, we strongly suggest that if you are interested in our services you speak to us to see what bespoke service we can offer you personally, rather than relying solely on the information below, which only sets out the range of charges we make by way of illustration.
If you choose DWF to represent you
Our Visas and Immigration Team sits within the business's Employment Practice Area and has extensive experience in delivering high quality work over a wide range of immigration applications. The team is currently listed as Tier 1 within the Legal 500 (Legal Directory) and it is noted for its excellence within this field of expertise. The Team head is also listed in the Chambers & Partners Directory.
The team presently includes:
John Dorney (Director)
John is head of the Visas and Immigration Team. He is a graduate of both Manchester University and Manchester Metropolitan University and has been a practising solicitor for over 20 years. John is a visa and immigration specialist and is personally rated as Tier 1 by the Legal 500. John supervises much of the immigration work carried out by the team and takes an active lead in those more complex or nuanced applications.
Other team members include:
Laura Winstanley (Solicitor)
Laura qualified as a solicitor into the Employment team in 2021 and completed her law degree at Lancaster University, having studied the Legal Practice Course and obtaining her MSC in Business Law and Management from the University of Law. Laura assists and carries out work on a wide range of immigration matters including right to work checks, sponsorship licences and visa applications (including spousal and dependent applications).
Megan Dickenson (Solicitor)
Megan qualified as a solicitor in 2022. She obtained her law degree from the University of Liverpool and went on to successfully study the Legal Practice Course at BPP University in Manchester. After completing her training contract with DWF, Megan qualified into the Employment team and assists Employers and their Employees with a range of immigration matters, such as visa applications, sponsorship licences and all queries that they present.
In terms of who would specifically act on your behalf, please note that if you instruct us to represent you it would very much be dependent upon the type of application to be made. Our aim is to always complete each task to the highest possible standard but for the work to be carried out at the "right level" in order for a fair and realistic cost to be incurred. We are proud that we have a wide spectrum of talent at our disposal to achieve this overall aim. More general routine tasks would be undertaken by junior fee earners up to around three years' post qualification experience and the more complex tasks by senior associates, directors and partners with longer periods of qualification and possessing greater experience.
As a minimum requirement all fee earning staff are qualified solicitors, apart from any incumbent trainee solicitor working in the team as part of their ongoing training contract.
All of our people are also fully trained and supervised at director /partner level.
For further information in respect of the team's partners and directors please visit Legal 500 or go to the DWF website.
Our fees and possible timescales
In terms of our fees, our range of charges detailed further below would cover the following typical, but not exhaustive, list of applications:
- Applications for naturalisation or registration under the British Nationality Act 1981;
- Applications on behalf of European Economic Area (EEA) nationals and their family members under the EU Settlement Scheme;
- Applications under the Immigration Rules, including:
- Skilled worker and global mobility worker visas;
- student and work experience visas;
- visit visas (for business or tourism, or visiting friends / family);
- spouse and partner's applications, including fiancé(e)s or proposed civil partners;
- dependent relative and family reunion applications;
- ancestry visas;
- start up and innovator visas; and
- other categories, such as applications on the basis of long residence together with applications "Outside of the Rules"
Hourly rate: Depending on level of fee earner, and whether one of our regional or London offices is used, this can be between £170 to £685 inclusive of VAT.
There are no set average costs for this types of work as every case, by virtue of the number of variable factors, is separate and discrete and the exact number of hours it will take to carry out your instructions depends on the surrounding circumstances such as, but not limited to:
- The nature of the application in question i.e. a citizenship application is far more involved than a standard visitor visa.
- Any adverse prior visa / immigration history.
- The amount of supporting evidence and documentation that we need to consider.
- Whether relevant evidence is missing or needs to be obtained and/or produced.
- The extent that third parties are involved.
- Which language(s) you speak.
- Whether you are applying with other dependents.
However, to provide a broad indication of possible costs, applications could be divided into three general categories:
1. "Simple" – Where the application requested is a simple process, where there are no specific problematic issues to be addressed and where all supporting documentation is readily available.
Examples of Simple Applications could be standard visitor visas (for business, tourism, or visiting friends / family etc.) and visas for fiancé(e)s or proposed civil partners, although this is not always the case.
2. "Routine" – Where the application requested is straightforward but bureaucratic, often requiring many issues to be further addressed and considered i.e. obtaining appropriately translated documents and complying with, sometimes, highly prescriptive Home Office requirements.
Examples of Routine Applications could include: spouse and partners applications, applications for work, business or study under the UK Points Based System; dependent relative and family reunion applications and ancestry visas.
3. "Complex" – Where the application is already complex or complicated by the nature of the surrounding circumstances and / or logistical or legal difficulties in providing documentary evidence to the Home Office's satisfaction.
Examples of Complex Applications could include applications for permanent residency or naturalisation / citizenship, Start-Up, Innovator or Global & Exceptional Talent visas and applications outside of the Immigration Rules, although, again, this is not always the case.
Costs would be incurred on a time spent basis with the broad ranges being:
Simple Application - £1,000 to £7,500 including VAT*
Routine Application - £2,500 to £18,000 including VAT*
Complex Application - £7,500 to £25,000 including VAT* and possibly higher in exceptionally complex matters.
*Figures are for individual applications and if a dependent is to be included then additional fees may be incurred. However, these would not be expected to exceed the figure for the main applicant, and in most scenarios we would anticipate these to be between 10 and 50% of that fee.
What services are included
For Routine and Complex Applications, the work will usually but not automatically involve:
- discussing your circumstances in detail and confirming whether this is the most appropriate application for you to make and what other options may be available to you;
- giving you advice about the requirements of the Immigration Rules and whether you meet the criteria;
- if you do not fulfil certain criteria, whether this can be overcome and how;
- considering the supporting evidence provided;
- where necessary, helping you obtain further evidence (such as medical records and bank statements), including taking statements of any witnesses or referees;
- preparing your application and where permitted submitting it on your behalf;
- preparing for Home Office interview: if the Home Office ask you to attend an interview, we will give you clear advice (and discuss the
- possibility of us attending with you) at the appropriate time; and
- giving you advice about the outcome of the application and any further steps you need to take.
Simple Applications would involve less extensive work and are normally progressed via telephone and email.
Disbursements (not included in costs set out above)
Disbursements are costs related to your matter that are payable to third parties, such as Home Office visa fees. We normally, but not always, handle the payment of the disbursements on your behalf to ensure a smoother process. These include such things as:
Interpreters' fees. These can vary widely but £200 per hour inclusive of VAT is a realistic estimate of present costs.
Independent expert reports e.g. medical experts. These are not required in many cases: we will let you know as soon as possible if we consider an expert report is necessary. Again, the range of costs can vary widely but £750 to £3,500 inclusive of VAT is again a realistic anticipation of present costs.
Barrister's fees where it is considered appropriate to take a further legal "Opinion" or "Advice". Such costs being anywhere from £750 to £7,500 inclusive of VAT depending on the complexity of the issues and the experience of the barrister chosen to be instructed.
If there is an interview and we do attend with you, there will be additional disbursements in respect of our mileage/travel expenses and possible overnight accommodation.
The costs quoted here do not include:
Any Home Office fees for making the application. You will pay these to the Home Office directly as part of the application process. Please see the latest fees: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/visa-regulations-revised-table
Where the Home Office refuse your application, advice and assistance in relation to any appeal or review.
How long will my application take?
We cannot guarantee how long the Home Office will take to process your application. Please see the current stated processing times:
We will normally be able to submit applications within 2 to 3 weeks of you instructing us and providing all of the necessary supporting documentation in a form acceptable to the Home Office, but we will let you know at the earliest opportunity if it is likely to take longer than this.
Please note the anticipated fees are an estimate based on the facts above. All applications are likely to vary and, of course, we can give you a more accurate estimate once we have more information about your specific case.
To summarise, visa and immigration applications vary so much in complexity and scope that speaking to us to discuss our services and bespoke pricing in greater detail is the best step to take. We will have a short initial telephone call or email enquiry with you, free of charge, in order to understand what your specific requirements are and to then see how we can help.