JRS UK new legal project

Jesuit Refugee Service UK is beginning a new project to provide legal advice for people pursuing asylum claims, whose claims have already been refused before.

Jonathan Parr, Assistant Director of JRS UK, said: “We are very excited to be advertising our Legal Officer role as, if successful, it will provide a much needed service.

“The refugees we serve find themselves let down by an unjust system and have reached the stage in the procedures whereby only intensive and high quality legal work will offer a hope of success. As we accompany refugees, we understand deeply how important it is that they receive the protection that is their right.”

Those served by the centre have come to the UK seeking refuge and wanting to rebuild their lives, but found the system for determining their claims is stacked against them. Most of them are pursuing what the Home Office considers new, or “fresh” asylum claims.

There are many ways in which the asylum system has let them down the first time round. One of them is that there is inadequate legal support to navigate this very complicated system.

Like most legal systems, it isn’t easy to understand without legal training, and there are hoops you have to jump through, so a good lawyer is really important. And once you’ve had an initial refusal, even if that was very unfair, it can be quite difficult to unpick, and it can be even more difficult to get the kind of legal support that is vital to a just asylum process. JRS UK wants to help provide that support.

Legal aid is already available for asylum claims, but cuts in this sector mean that most solicitors don’t have the time to work as closely as they’d like with clients on cases, or to work with experts to compile the necessary evidence – such as gathering testimonies from people in other countries. Many, many people who are initially refused are eventually recognised as refugees.

In researching this project, the JRS team spoke to a number of immigration solicitors about why this may be the case; often it stems from misunderstandings in the original application that could have been picked up and resolved by good legal advice.

This new project would not be an alternative to legal aid. The aim is to hire an experienced immigration solicitor to work really intensively with the people JRS serves, helping to prepare fresh claims for them.

They’d have the time to get to know them and really understand their case. This would mean they could lay a case out in the detail it needs and deserves. The case would then be passed on to a legal aid solicitor to take it forward.

The project will involve close working relationships and collaboration with others in the legal profession as well. It will play an important part in JRS’ current service to destitute refugees who are struggling to gain recognition, and it will also give the organisation an insight into the asylum process from a fresh angle, which will feed into its advocacy.

The legal officer will collaborate really closely as part of the JRS team, and also have the chance to really take the lead on how the project develops.

Find the full description of the role and more information on how to apply on JRS UK website

If you have further questions, please e-mail uk@jrs.net