Welcome to the first edition of our ‘Meet the Team’ blog series, where we get to know some of the friendly faces behind Citizens Advice Bury & Bolton. This week we chatted to Gail Lyle, our Immigration Service Manager and one of our accredited Immigration & Asylum advisers, to find out what help CABB can provide.
1) Tell us about your role at CABB?
I’m Gail and I’m the Immigration Service Manager at Citizens Advice Bury & Bolton. I’ve worked in our Immigration unit helping our clients with immigration and asylum-related issues since it first opened in March 2003.
I started as our team admin and worked my way up to where I’m now – a Level 2 Accredited Immigration and Asylum Adviser. I currently manage our Immigration team which consists of six other Level 2 accredited advisers as well as one specialist European Union Settled Status (EUSS) adviser.
2) How does the immigration team work?
All the members of our team are Accredited through the Immigration and Asylum Accreditation Scheme, which is run by the Law Society and we’re also registered with the OISC (Office of Immigration Service Commissioner). We deal with all asylum and immigration enquiries – up to and including, applications for Judicial Review
We’ve held a successful Legal Aid Contact (LAA) from March 2003 and operate a not-for-profit fee-paying service for those clients whose applications are not in scope for legal aid since February 2015.
We can assist with all asylum and immigration client inquiries. We do this both through one-off advice or through providing representation for those in scope for legal aid or under our fee-paying service. Client’s can attend a face-to-face drop in, contact us via our freephone Adviceline service or be referred in through another local service. We also deliver advice through our remote video drop-in service.
3) What sort of issues do you help clients with?
We help our clients with a huge range of issues, ranging from when they first arrive in the UK and claim asylum to supporting family members of both British and EU Nationals arriving in the UK as dependent family members.
We assist with applications to extend leave for those in the UK with valid leave and also assist clients who are ‘overstayers’ (meaning they have no valid leave), helping them to regularise their status in the UK.
We assist a great number of clients that are in the UK on a valid Spouse Visa who are then unfortunately subject to domestic violence.
4) Can you give any recent examples of clients you’ve helped?
As a team we advise and assist over 100 clients per month. Unfortunately due to Covid-19 we’ve seen an influx of clients presenting as domestic violence victims. We work closely with other organisations such as domestic violence agencies, the Local Authority and Greater Manchester Police.
Last week we assisted a client who was referred to us by Fortalice (a local service for women, families, children and young people affected by Domestic Abuse and Violence) having fled domestic violence. We attended the police station where she was and completed the relevant paperwork to enable her to access public funds and secure emergency accommodation.
We liaised with Bolton Housing Options to secure the client temporary accommodation for 10 days whilst her application was being processed by the Home Office. We also took instruction from the client to assist her applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK, under our legal aid contract.
5) What do you enjoy most about working for CABB?
Helping clients and making a difference! I love my job and can’t imagine doing any other area of law. I feel really fortunate to be part of a team that keeps clients at the heart of everything we do.
If you need help with an immigration or asylum-related issue, you can get in touch with us on 0808 278 7804 or attend one of our fortnightly face-to-face drop ins – keep an eye out on our Facebook and Twitter accounts for more details.