You are in the US and contemplate applying for a Standard Visitor Visa.
Does anyone know where abouts I could find this sort of help?
The first step is to determine if your case is 'complex' or 'straight-forward'. It's an important step. You can determine this by having a consultation with a solicitor. During the consultation the meter is running so it's best to prepare yourself: get scans of your evidence and write a brief summary of your personal circumstances.
Solicitors are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and accredited by the Law Society. Importantly, solicitors are required by law to refuse casework that is hopeless and they can get into serious trouble for it. They are also required to tell you if your case is 'complex' or 'straight-forward' and similarly they can get into trouble by making the wrong diagnosis.
The consultation is normally handled by email and telephone and sometimes Skype. If your case is 'straight-forward', they may tell you to do it yourself. If they tell you that your case is 'complex', it means you should proceed with extreme caution. In either case they may offer to take you under client care. If they take you under client care they have to send you a written letter confirming the cost and scope. As an example, Vicki will give you a solid consultation for £100 (edit: it seems Victoria Sharkey no longer practices). Barry's consultations start at about £350, but he specialises in cases involving deception, overstaying, and removals. Ian will give a consultation for about £200; he relies on 20 years experience as an Immigration Officer at Heathrow.
What to search for? Website links? Reputable recommendations?
Immigration help comes in two flavours: advisers and solicitors. These are listed at...
You can also simply call a high street firm and explain what you're after, some of these are...
It is not spam to list these because they are widely acknowledged as industry leaders and each of them has a history of testifying before Parliament or dealing with the UKVI at the ministerial level. They also have heavyweight muscle when it comes to applications (i.e., no refusals). Because of all that, they are expensive (we're talking serious coin here) and sometimes it's hard to get on their calendars. As an example, I saw Sophie represent a visitor visa application for a woman with two prior refusals and an inland removal at public expense (yikes!). It cost £3,800.
If your case is straight-forward but you want to make sure your application is bullet-proof, you can arrange for a 'doc check'. It means a practitioner will take your completed application and all your evidence and give you some light feedback on it. Remember that it's light-weight and not for 'complex' cases. I saw that Colin Yeo (who's cool) is offering a doc check for £249. There are others out there and it's fine to ask a practitioner for a doc check during your consultation. I knew an adviser who did reasonably sound doc check for £80. Comparatively, Vicki's doc checks cost £500 but she's heavily detail-oriented and bullet-proof exhaustive.
- I can say this explicitly: avoid using the UKVI helpline.
- Avoid forums and discussion boards for anything other than simple
- Let's say as a working figure 98% of applicants do not need a
practitioner. The whole system is designed for normal people who can
fill out the form and submit their stuff. It's simple and universally
- Specifically for you, Kate, your case is 'complex', it's apparent in
your history and a solicitor will tell this immediately. You can just tell them outright, "I have a case with awkward complexities". They will know what to do after that. And whatever you do, don't use straight-forward tactics. You will likely be refused again if you do.
I am aligned with the school of thought that solicitors should be used whenever the applicant's case is complex. Regardless of the cost, a solicitor can prevent refusals and as we know, refusals are a permanent burden on a person's history. Further disclaiming, I know all of those mentioned above personally, and for a long time.