Legal aid and finding advice 

The NRPF Network does not provide legal representation on individual cases. The information below is to assist practitioners and people with NRPF to find an appropriate legal adviser. 

Legal aid 

In April 2013, the Government significantly limited the types of cases which could be covered by free legal aid funding in England and Wales. 

Legal aid is available for the following asylum and immigration cases:

  • Asylum applications
  • Detention
  • Applying for indefinite leave to remain after relationship breakdown due to domestic violence or an EU citizen applying to stay after domestic violence
  • Applying for leave to remain as a victim of trafficking
  • ​Proceedings before the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC)
  • Applications for asylum support (if the application is for housing and financial support)​
Advice and assistance with all other matters, including applications made under the family life rules, or outside the rules on human rights grounds will not be covered by legal aid, unless a person can successfully apply for exceptional case funding.​

Legal aid is also available for other cases:

  • Asylum cases and very limited immigration matters 
  • Social services cases where children are involved
  • Help or services from the local authority and/or the NHS because of illness, disability or mental capacity
  • Representation at a mental health tribunal for people detained in hospital
  • Welfare benefit appeals to the Upper Tribunal, High Court, Court of Appeal or Supreme Court
  • Homelessness including asylum accommodation
  • Judicial review challenges against decisions by public bodies, including local authorities
For a full list see the Law Society's website.

Eligibility for legal aid
If legal aid is available, then a person will be subject to a means assessment and will only qualify if they have a low or no income. People in receipt of local authority support would need to provide a letter outlining the financial assistance they are receiving. 

Depending on the stage that the case is at, eligibility for legal aid funding may also be dependent on the case passing a merits test. The legal adviser will be required to make an assessment of the likelihood of the case succeeding​ and legal aid funding may be refused if the case has little prospect of success. 

How to find a legal aid adviser
To find a legal aid funded adviser in England and Wales, see:
Scotland and Northern Ireland are subject to different funding rules. For more information see:

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Legal aid: exceptional case funding

If the case is not covered by legal aid then it still may be possible to apply for exceptional funding. Exceptional funding is available to people whose human rights or EU rights would be breached if they did not have legal aid. person must demonstrate that:

  • Legal aid is not ordinarily available for their case
  • Their case is strong
  • They are financially eligible for legal aid
  • Legal aid is necessary to prevent their human rights or EU rights from being breached 
  • Without legal aid it would be practic​ally impossible to bring their case or the proceedings would be unfair​
To apply for exceptional funding, form CIV ECF1 must be completed and submitted with a merits and means form to the Legal Aid Agency's Exceptional Funding Case Team. Legal advisers generally will not help people to complete this form. However, the Public Law Project may be able to help people to complete the exceptional funding form if they cannot get assistance from elsewhere. Good information about exceptional​ funding and how to make a referral to the Public Law Project for help can be found on their website​

See also:

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How to find an immigration or asylum legal adviser

It is unlawful to provide immigration advice to a person that relates to their specific circumstances unless the adviser is registered with the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC), or is exempt from registration, for example, is a solicitor or barrister registered under the appropriate regulatory bodies.
To find a local representative who is properly regulated, see:

Legal aid is available for asylum cases and a few types of immigration cases. To find a legal aid funded solicitor see:

If legal aid is not available, there are limited places where a person can obtain free legal advice. Some voluntary sector agencies may have OISC registered advisers or Law Centres may have funding to provide free legal advice but such provision is often very limited. 

How to find a benefits or housing adviser

There are several organisations which provide welfare benefits and/or housing advice or can help to find a local adviser:

Legal aid is available for welfare benefit appeals at certain stages and for homelessness cases. To find a legal aid funded adviser see:

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How to get help with a social services case

​If a person has requested help from social services and receives a response that they think might be unfair or unlawful, then they should ask for details of the council's complaints procedure. If their case is urgent then they may seek legal advice from a solicitor specialising in housing, community care or public law. Legal aid is available. There may be a law centre or voluntary sector organisations in the person's area that can assist. ​

To find a legal aid funded adviser see:

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Page updated 20 September 2016