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Lawyers are now part of an increasingly linked world that spans several nations and legal systems. This has resulted in many prospective clients and a consequent demand for legal assistance on an international and global scale. English law is praised for its fairness, predictability, and commerciality. It remains the favored governing law for worldwide commerce and conflict settlement. The apparent neutrality, impartiality, and appropriateness of English law have been identified as critical criteria in the selection of ruling legislation. That is why many Foreign lawyers try to immigrate to the UK as a lawyer.

The Market for Immigrant Lawyers 

The demand for dual-qualified English attorneys has always been high in the UK and globally. This is because foreign attorneys and dual-qualified English solicitors have a unique combination of talents and competence that law firms recognize. Therefore, they aggressively recruit these extraordinarily gifted people with a multi-dimensional approach to law. 

Almost every day, the legal press reports on UK law firms expanding globally, opening offices in new countries, and combining with other firms to extend their international dominance. This demand is a reason that many immigrate to the UK as lawyers.

How to Immigrate to the UK as a Lawyer?

Qualified attorneys must perform the following:

  1. Have a degree equal to a UK degree or other qualifications, or equivalent experience to pass the SQE assessment (the UK bar exam).
    1. SQE1 is a multiple-choice test that assesses legal knowledge.
    2. SQE2 oral and written exams assess practical abilities.
  2. Learn about the SQE examination and how much the exam costs.
  3. Fulfill the character and appropriateness standards

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) expects that qualified attorneys to normally have at least two years of professional experience to demonstrate that they have developed the skills tested by the SQE test. However, some applicants may be capable of showing that they have gained the relevant competencies to an equal level in a shorter period of professional experience or via lifelong learning (or a combination of both). Therefore, they can still seek recognition by presenting formal proof.

Degree-Level Experience

You can take the SQE exam if you hold a degree or equivalent degree from outside the UK that is equal to a part or all of the SQE. In addition, you must show that your qualification is equal to SQE1 and SQE2, or specific components of the SQE, in the following methods:

  • The professional qualification must include information that is not significantly different from the English and Welsh law areas specified in the Statement of Legal Knowledge and the competencies specified in the SoSC.
  • The professional qualification must be of an equal standard, assessing to a level corresponding to level 3 of the SRA threshold standard.

Equivalent Experience If You Do Not Have a Degree

The SRA examines whether the knowledge, abilities, and competencies obtained by qualified attorneys practicing under their home jurisdiction are equal to similar sections of SQE1 and SQE2. To recognize a qualified lawyer’s knowledge, skills, and competencies gained via professional experience, they must show that the knowledge, skill sets, and competencies obtained are comparable to the entire SQE or specific parts of the SQE in the following methods:

  • The knowledge, skills, and competencies gained through professional experience must include subjects that are not significantly different from the areas of English and Welsh law given out in the Statement of Legal Knowledge and the competencies set out in the SoSC.
  • The knowledge, abilities, and competencies gained through professional experience must be developed to a level similar to the SRA threshold standard’s level 3.

English language

An English language proficiency requirement will be implemented when necessary for qualified attorneys whose professional degrees or experience are equivalent to all or part of SQE2. This will happen after admission when applicants file for their first practicing certificate.

What are the Character and Suitability Conditions of Immigrant Lawyers?

To immigrate to the UK as a lawyer, SRA will examine your honesty as a lawyer just as much as your expertise and talents. They will only accept you as a lawyer if you fulfill their character and suitability standards.

Pre-admission Applicant Screening

Before submitting your application for a character and suitability evaluation, all applicants must undergo the screening procedure. Payment is made using a credit or debit card. The cost is £34.

Atlantic Data conducts screening for lawyers residing in the United Kingdom, which involves the following checks:

  • Identity
  • Financial, encompassing bankruptcy and county court judgments
  • The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) conducts basic criminal history checks.

This is normally done in person. However, in some cases, it can be done through video calls. If you have any questions, please contact Atlantic Data. You will require an overseas criminal record check if you have resided outside the UK for more than a year in the past five years. 

To apply for screening, you must first create a mySRA account. SRA recommends that you wait until you are prepared to apply for admission before applying for screening. This indicates you have fulfilled all qualifying work experience and are aware of the outcome of any relevant SQE evaluations or exemption applications. This is because screening outcomes are often only legitimate for six months after being released.

When you have done the screening

Atlantic Data will offer you a regular certificate for inspections in the United Kingdom. SRA will need this certificate scanned and submitted if there are any disclosures. If you have none, your application will be approved. In addition, you will be notified by email. Your admission application form is now available in your mySRA account. SRA will make the decision based on your screening within six months of when you apply.

What to Expect during Applicant Screening

SRA will examine your application after they get all of the necessary information. SRA will carefully review it, collect any necessary material, and then produce a report outlining its conclusion. If they are considering rejecting your application, they will allow you to object to the draft report.

They normally decide within 30 days after receiving all the necessary information and hope to decide on an application within six months. However, you have the option to withdraw your application at any moment before they make a decision.

What are the Consequences of Failing to Submit Information with Your Application?

You must submit the required information within the timeframes specified to ensure your application is allowed. If it is denied, you have 28 days to request a review of the decision. If you are dissatisfied with your appeal decisions, you may appeal to the High Court.

Remember that if your application is denied, you may only reapply if there has been a serious change in the conditions relevant to your application.

How to Make Your Application for Character and Suitability Screening?

As mentioned, to immigrate to the UK as a lawyer, you must undergo the screening process. You must first ensure that you have created a mySRA account. Make a new account if you don’t have one. You should submit your application at least six months before a response. Before submitting your application, please ensure you have finished the pre-admission screening.

You must submit proof as part of your application. The character and suitability evaluation is free of charge. This application is closed from the 1st of August to the 31st of October each year. This allows SRA to prioritize admission and reinstatement applications during their busiest season.

What are the Topics of the SQE Assessment? 

The SQE is the test you must take to immigrate to the UK as a lawyer. It contains SQE1 and SQE2.

  • SQE1 assesses functional legal knowledge (FLK). The test is divided into two parts: FLK1 and FLK2.
  • SQE2 measures practical legal abilities. It is likewise divided into two parts: oral and written assessments.

SQE1

FLK encompasses the following topic areas. Over two days, it evaluates you using single-best-answer multiple-choice questions. FLK1 and FLK2 will look at ethics and professional conduct.

FLK1

  • Tort
  • Dispute Resolution
  • Legal System of England and Wales
  • Contract
  • Legal Services
  • Business Law and Practice
  • Constitutional and Administrative Law 
  • EU Law 

FLK2

  • Trusts
  • Property Practice
  • Criminal Law and Practice
  • Solicitors Accounts
  • Wills and the Administration of Estates
  • Land Law

To pass SQE1, you must obtain an overall passing score for both FLK1 and FLK2. If you flunk FLK1 or FLK2, you will fail SQE1. All parts of the SQE1 evaluation are required. Sample SQE1 questions are available by clicking here.

SQE2

The SQE2 assessment subjects are mentioned below. The evaluation lasts five days and consists of a combination of written and oral questions. Throughout, ethics and professional behavior are evaluated.

You are evaluated on the following six abilities:

  • Legal research
  • Advocacy
  • Legal writing
  • Case and matter analysis
  • Client interview and attendance note/legal analysis
  • Legal drafting

These legal abilities are evaluated in the following practice areas:

  • Wills and Intestacy, Probate Administration and Practice
  • Dispute Resolution
  • Business organizations’ rules and procedures
  • Criminal Litigation
  • Property Practice

All parts of the SQE2 evaluation are required. Sample SQE2 questions are available by clicking here.

How Much is the Fee for the SQE Assessment? 

To immigrate to the UK as a lawyer you need to pay the SQE fees. SQE fees are:

  • SQE1: £1,622
  • SQE2: £2,493

How to pay for SQE1?

FLK1 and FLK2 must be booked individually but paid for together at the time of booking. You must take FLK1 and FLK2 during the same evaluation timeframe.

How to pay for SQE2?

You must arrange the written and oral evaluations at the same time and pay at that time. 

Cancellation fees

If you cancel your test after paying for it, you may be subjected to a cancellation fee, depending on when you inform us to cancel your appointment. You must notify us in writing of your intention to cancel your reservation. The cancellation fees are calculated based on when you inform us to cancel the reservation.

SQE1

  • Within 14 days of paying for the exam: No charge and results in a complete refund.
  • After 14 days until the registration window closes:
    • If you cancel FLK1 or FLK2, you will receive a complete refund minus a £30 cancellation fee.
    • If you cancel the entire SQE1 (including FLK1 and FLK2), you will receive a complete refund minus a £60 cancellation fee.
  • After the registration, the window closed but within 48 hours of the exam:
    • If you cancel FLK1 or FLK2, you will receive a complete refund minus a £608.25 cancellation fee.
    • If you cancel the entire SQE1 (including FLK1 and FLK2), you will receive a complete refund minus a £1,216.50 cancellation fee.
  • No refund if you cancel within 48 hours of the exam.

SQE2

  • Within 14 days of registering and paying: No charge and results in a complete refund.
  • After 14 days of paying till the booking window ends: Full refund except for £250 cancellation fee.
  • After the exam registration deadline but more than 2 weeks before the first day of the applicable assessment window: Full refund except for a £1,869.75 cancellation fee.
  • If you cancel 2 weeks or fewer prior to the first day of the applicable evaluation timeframe: No refund. 

Note: SRA demands cancellation requests in writing through email and recommends using the Model Cancellation Form.

Exam Retaking Fee

You must pay the following costs to retake your exam:

SQE1

  • If you flunk FLK1 or FLK2, you must spend £811 to retake the test.
  • If you flunk both FLK1 and FLK2, you must pay the entire £1,622 SQE1 price to retake both examinations.

SQE2

  • If you flunk SQE2, you must pay the entire fee of £2,493 to repeat the examinations.

How to Register for the SQE?

First, you need to sign up and confirm your SQE account. If you don’t have an account, you can sign up now. After you have confirmed your account, your SQE candidate number will appear in your candidate account under the “My SQE Account” item at the top right-hand side of the website.

Infographic How to Work and Immigrate to the UK as a Lawyer

How to Verify your Identity For the SQE Assessment?

A valid photo ID is required to register for the SQE. When you register, you must provide an image of your ID so that they can verify your identity. During your SQE path, SRA will preserve a duplicate of your ID document. They will keep it for the duration of your account’s active status or for as long as it takes you to sit and pass the SQE. 

Suitable ID for verification

Official picture identification is required. For instance: 

  • Passport
  • Driving License with Photocard
  • Other official photo identification

Note: It is better to use your passport to prove your identification.

How to Prepare for the SQE Test?

The SRA will not ask applicants to take any prerequisite courses before taking the SQE. On the other hand, taking an SQE preparation course may give you the highest chance of passing the exam.

What Happens on the SQE Exam Day?

To immigrate to the UK as a Lawyer, you must pass the SQE assessment. So, let’s see what happens on the exam day so that you can prepare yourselves.

SQE1 and SQE2 Written Assessments

SQE1 and SQE2 written tests need two pieces of identification (taking place at Pearson VUE test centers). One of them should ideally be the same ID you used when signing up.

As your primary identification, SRA recommends carrying your current, valid passport. You may also use one of the below items as your primary form of identity. If you show any of the primary identification cards indicated below, they must be genuine and include an inserted photo.

  • Photocard UK biometric residence permit
  • Photocard national identification card
  • Photocard driving license

Your entire name and signature must appear on the second form of identification. Other types of identification are not allowed. However, you can contact the Candidate Services staff immediately if you have any issues.

If you do not show appropriate identification evidence, you will be denied the right to the examination room, and your examination money will be confiscated. Your name on your identification must match your name on your registration with the SQE. The assessment center personnel have no authority to waive or modify the identification rules. Therefore, you must bring the identification mentioned above every day of the evaluation.

SQE 2 Oral Assessment

You must use the same kind of valid picture ID that you used to register. If you have to alter your ID between registering and taking the SQE2 oral test, you must update the picture ID record on your SQE account before attending the test. Failure to do so will cause your exam registration to be delayed on the day of the assessment. Every day of the evaluation, you must bring the identification mentioned above.

How Much is the Average Salary of a Lawyer in the UK?

A Lawyer’s average annual income is £68,700, which is £39,100, greater than the national average wage in the UK. A lawyer’s starting pay is typically £25,000. The highest-paying jobs can earn more than £200,000 per year.

The average total income for an Entry Level Lawyer (less than three years of experience) is £25,000 annually. Those with four to nine years of experience earn an average compensation of £65,900, while those with ten to twenty years of experience earn, on average, £115,700. Over 20-year-old lawyers earn an average of £141,900.

Let’s Sum Up

To immigrate to the UK as lawyers, international students and lawyers from other countries can take the SQE test beginning in September 2021. Bypassing the same test as domestic applicants, you can qualify as a lawyer under the SQE. Unlike the old system, the SQE provides more flexibility and chances for international students to qualify in England and Wales, as most prerequisites may be met from outside.

FAQs

How much do immigration lawyers make in the UK?

In the UK, the average migration lawyer’s pay is £40,000 per year or £20.51 per hour.

How do I become an immigration lawyer UK?

You must first complete an academic level of training (a diploma) before moving on to qualified employees.

Is being a lawyer stressful UK? 

Legal jobs are the second most pressured occupation in the UK, with 63% of respondents expressing everyday stress.

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