Statelessness applications often involve complex legal issues, and the advice of a qualified lawyer is usually necessary to gather sufficient evidence and properly prepare a statelessness application under Immigration Rules Part 14.
It is important that applicants tell their lawyer as much as possible about their situation, to ensure that the lawyer is aware of all relevant facts. For example, if an applicant has been tortured, survived sexual or other violence (by anyone, including a family member), been forced to work without pay, trafficked, controlled or exploited by another person, or treated badly in another way, in the UK or another country, it is important for their lawyer to know this so the lawyer can advise which kind of application to stay will be best.
Two organisations have dedicated free legal advice projects for statelessness applications under Part 14 of the Immigration Rules: Asylum Aid / Migrants Resource Centre (in London) and the University of Liverpool Law Clinic.
Migrants Resource Centre also hosts the Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens, which provides free legal assistance for children with an entitlement to British citizenship who cannot afford to pay for legal advice.
Stateless people may pay for a lawyer of their choice if they have the resources to do so.
More information about how to find a qualified lawyer is available here.
Check that your legal adviser has seen this guide: Statelessness and Applications for Leave to Remain: A Best Practice Guide.
Free legal advice and assistance (or ‘legal aid’) is routinely available for asylum and humanitarian protection applications throughout the UK, but lawyers cannot work on statelessness applications under Part 14 of the Immigration Rules or British citizenship applications under usual legal aid funding rules in England and Wales. However, it is possible to apply for Exceptional Case Funding (see the section on Obtaining Exceptional Case Funding). There is legal aid for statelessness applications in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Obtaining Exceptional Case Funding
It is best for an applicant to consult a lawyer who can assist them to apply for Exceptional Case Funding; however, if the applicant is unable to find a lawyer to make an Exceptional Case Funding application for them, they may apply for Exceptional Case Funding without legal assistance, and if it is granted, they can then look for a lawyer to represent them using that funding.
Instructions and the form for making applications for Exceptional Case Funding for legal aid are available here.
More information about legal aid and Exceptional Case Funding for statelessness cases is available here: and in Statelessness and Applications for Leave to Remain: A Best Practice Guide, A.5.d and C.1.
Legal aid for judicial review
If a statelessness application is refused and a request for Home Office Administrative Review does not change the decision, it may be possible to challenge the decision through judicial review. Legal aid is available throughout the UK for applications for judicial review if there are good reasons for challenging the decision and other requirements for legal aid are met. To succeed with judicial review, it must be shown that there are important legal errors in the way the Home Office decided the application.
Requests for permission for judicial review must be sent to the court as soon as possible after receiving a decision on a statelessness application, and in any event, within three months of the Home Office decision. Upon receiving a decision on a statelessness application, the applicant should urgently seek legal advice about whether it is possible to challenge the decision.
See also the section on What happens if an application is refused.