Under suggested proposals by the Legal Services Board (LSB) providing immigration advice and services could become a reserved legal activity.

Currently, those who provide immigration advice but are not a solicitor, barrister or chartered legal executive have to be regulated by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC).

However, the LSB have found this “complex regulatory architecture” presents the risk of gaps and overlaps in regulation, and differences in approach “that are not justified by evidence” – especially as the OISC does not have the range of powers of the Legal Ombudsman when dealing with complaints.

Last week, a discussion paper found that there is likely to be a “significant consumer detriment” in the way that that immigration work is being regulated at the moment; and an overall lack of data and information about the market is said to be hampering effective regulation.

It is thought that if this cannot be remedied, then the LSB may begin a statutory investigation into making the work reserved.

Following the discussion paper, the Legal Services Board said they expect, by the end of the year, the qualifying regulators “to implement coherent, evidence-based approaches to manage risks to consumers and the public interest in the provision of immigration advice and services”.