The Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) is an independent, non-departmental public body set up under the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. It is responsible for regulating immigration advisers and for ensuring that they are fit and competent and act.
The key responsibilities of the OISC are to:
The OISC does not provide immigration advice or recommend or endorse a specific adviser, not does it represent the interests of immigration practitioners. Representation of the interests of practitioners comes through either the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association and the Association of Regulated Immigration Advisers both of whom provide lists of members for the public to access.
Section 84 (1) of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 prohibits the provision of immigration advice or services other than by a ‘qualified person’. Thus anyone who wishes to provide immigration advice or services must either be registered with, or exempted from registration with, OISC. This means that businesses offering immigration services and most voluntary and community organisations will need to be registered or exempted.
A qualified person is defined as:
It should be noted, however, that operating an immigration advice service where work is checked by a solicitor or barrister is not sufficient – the relevant professional body itself must regulate the work. Solicitors or barristers who assist unregulated advisers to practise in this way may be acting in breach of their own professional rules.
The Immigration and Asylum Act requires that advisers be fit and competent and that they meet with an appropriate Code of Standards which is issued by the OISC (note that immigration advisers who are regulated by one of the designated professional bodies are an exception to the Code). Full details of the OISC Code of Standards can be found elsewhere on this web site.