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New OISC code of practice will take effect from 1 September 2024


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The Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (’OISC’) has published their response to last year’s consultation on the code of standards. Under the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 it is a criminal offence to give immigration advice unless you are properly regulated. For those who are not practicing solicitors, barristers or Chartered Legal Executives, that usually means needing to be registered with OISC.

A new code of practice will be published in April and come into effect on 1 September 2024. OISC has confirmed that they will be moving to a less prescriptive, more principle based approach, similar to changes made for solicitors in 2019.

Consultation response

The current code of standards will be changed to nine core principles underpinned by codes. OISC reports that there was overwhelming support for the new approach and has published a fairly detailed analysis of the responses received. Changes that have been made to the proposed code and principles following consideration of the responses are detailed on page 6.

Following the analysis of responses, OISC says it will do the following:

  • Proceed with the introduction of the new Code of Standards, with some amendments from the draft version which reflects points raised during the consultation.
  • Publish the new Code in April 2024 but it will not come into effect until September 2024 to give advisers sufficient time to familiarise themselves with the new Code.
  • Publish detailed Guidance Notes to accompany the new Code. The guidance will assist in the interpretation and application of the Principles and Codes and provide advisers with support and assurance on compliance.
  • Continue to work closely with organisations and advisers and provide support where necessary, even after the implementation of the new Code, to ensure smooth transition from a prescriptive approach to a more principle-based approach.
  • Continue to explore potential impacts with stakeholders after the new Code of Standards is published and in its early years in operation through our ongoing engagement with regulated advisers and the sector. In particular, this will look at the duties placed on advisers in areas such as reporting misconduct and ensure these are working well for the sector and creating no risk for employees.
  • Undertake a review by December 2025 to see how effective the new Code has been and if it has achieved the policy objectives that it was designed for.

Expected impact of the changes

The impact assessment identifies some of the risks of making the change, including a lack of clarity or certainty as to what advisers must do and that some organisations may find the less prescriptive principle based approach less reassuring. OISC says that these risks will be mitigated with advice and guidance. The overall effect is expected to be positive and OISC does not anticipate a negative impact on those already complying with the existing code of standards.

OISC also does not expect these changes to impact on the supply of advisers, however their recently announced separate consultation on registration fees seems more likely to have a negative impact here. A review will be carried out before December 2025 to see how effective the change in policy has been.

We will update our OISC regulatory and exams handbooktraining materials and training course with the details of the new code ahead of it coming into force.

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Sonia Lenegan

Sonia Lenegan is an experienced immigration, asylum and public law solicitor. She has been practising for over ten years and was previously legal director at the Immigration Law Practitioners' Association and legal and policy director at Rainbow Migration. Sonia is the Editor of Free Movement.