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3.2 Taking Client Instructions

This is a process which requires some finesse as the client will not always be able to identify what is relevant and will not always be able to tell their story in a logical sequence. You might need to probe for more detail and/or filter information from the client’s instructions in order to take things forward.

Part 1- Formalities

Use this part of the interview to put the client at ease, ensure the client understands your role. If you know the client in another role (e.g. a welfare support role) explain the new Immigration advice role you are playing and how it relates to the old role, in particular, whether it is independent (i.e. if you stop acting for the client in their immigration matter, can they continue to access other support?). During any formalities, try to establish a slightly more formal relationship with the client (for the purposes of taking instructions.) But if you can make the client laugh, this is the time to do it – a formal relationship doesn’t have to be dull.


  • Introduce yourself
  • Interpreter
  • Anyone else

Explain your role:

  • Destitution/welfare role
  • Legal adviser role
  • Overlap
  • Independence of destitution/welfare role

Explain the interpreter role:

  • Interpret what is being said ‘verbatim’
  • Be impartial
  • Maintain Confidentiality

Explain the limitations:

  • Funding/remit
  • OISC Level

Explain duties:

  • Client’s best interests
  • Confidentiality
  • Duty to court (can’t deceive court/home office)

Check nay conflicts of interest?

Explain the forms:

  • Authority
  • Confidentiality/consent form

Explain how you will take instructions:

Part 2 - Taking Instructions

This is the longest part - allow at least an hour. Record everything verbatim (i.e. write down questions and answers word-for-word.) Try and establish a rhythm of question and answer with minimal interruptions. Begin with some fairly open questions - e.g. “how can I help you?” and give the client some space to talk.


  • What does the client want to do?
  • Biographical information (date/place of birth, nationality, parents etc.)
  • Background (education/employment, etc.)
  • Immigration history (applications, appeals, etc)
  • Health
  • Family in UK
  • Private life ties to UK
  • UK antecedents

Protection (if applicable):

  • Who?
  • Why?
  • How?
  • Past persecution
  • Future fear
  • Arrest/detention?
  • State protection
  • Internal flight
  • Journey to the UK
  • Dublin/safe third country issues
  • Entry into UK
  • Actions on arrival
  • Reasons for any delay in claiming

Private Life


  • Length of Residence in the UK
  • Education/Qualifications Children
  • Spouse/Partner
  • Medical Issues
  • Exceptional Circumstances
  • Insurmountable Obstacles
  • Religion
  • Relatives/ Friends
  • Ethnicity
  • Criminal & Immigration History
  • NHS & Litigation Debts


  • Length of Residence in the UK
  • Nationality

Child life in the UK:

  • Education/Special Education Needs, Fees
  • Medical Issues
  • Language Spoken and Written
  • Relatives/Friends
  • Places of Worship
  • NHS & Litigation Debts
  • Criminal & Immigration History

Life of the Child in the proposed country:

  • Single Parent Family
  • Family members who are LGBTQ
  • Religion
  • Ethnicity
  • Conditions of entry
  • Housing
  • Healthcare Facilities
  • Education-Language/Fees
  • Child Mortality rates
  • Child Labour
  • Child Marriage


  • Complete any necessary forms
  • Agree tasks for you
  • Agree tasks for client
  • Agree deadlines

Part 3 - Advice and Actions

If you are uncertain, you may wish to reserve the bulk of this for a second interview and give only interim or qualified advice.

Re-check: Conflict of Interest?

Do the instructions raise anything new that may compromise your independence?


Outline any possible applications, claims or other courses of action, and for each action, explain:
  • Requirements to be met
  • Evidence needed
  • Strengths and weaknesses
  • Prospects for success
  • Advantages and disadvantages
  • Procedures
  • Deadlines
Also explain any current circumstances and potential consequences of inaction:
  • Liability for detention
  • Risk of enforcement action
  • Criminal offences
Webpage: Immigration Guidance For Professionals (Bar Standards Board)
A PDF document containing guidance for professionals working with people with Immigration and asylum issues.