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Changes to the Immigration and Asylum Accreditation

22 February 2018

The Law Society has reviewed the Immigration and Asylum Accreditation and the revised scheme will take effect at the commencement of the new Immigration Legal Aid contract on 1 September 2018.

There are significant changes to terminology, the time that members can remain at each stage of accreditation and the work they can perform at each stage.

New terminology

Changes have been made to terminology to better describe the status of caseworkers at all levels:

Current titleWill change to  
Probationer  Trainee casework assistant  
Level 1  Casework assistant  
Level 2 Senior caseworker  
Level 2 supervisor Supervising senior caseworker 
Level 3 Advanced caseworker  

The previous levels of accreditation - probationer, level 1, level 2, supervisor, level 3 (advanced) - will be replaced by interim, full and advanced accreditation.

It remains the case that practitioners may apply for full accreditation as a senior caseworker without having been previously accredited.

Time that members can remain at each stage of accreditation

Trainee casework assistants may remain at this stage for up to nine months. There is no re-accreditation at this stage. They must become accredited as a casework assistant or a senior caseworker in order to be paid by the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) for work conducted under the 2018 Standard Civil Contract.

Casework assistants may remain at this stage for up to one year. There is no re-accreditation at this stage. They must become accredited as a senior caseworker in order be paid by the Legal Aid Agency for work conducted under the 2018 Standard Civil Contract.

Senior caseworkers will have to seek re-accreditation every three years. This is unchanged.

Supervising senior caseworkers will have to seek re-accreditation as a senior caseworker, every three years. This is unchanged.

Duties at each level

Casework assistants and trainee casework assistants who have passed the exam

  • Cannot have conduct of cases/matters.
  • Can conduct tasks delegated by senior caseworkers from their own case-load, except in reserved matters. Delegated tasks are supervised by, and remain the responsibility of, the senior caseworker who has conduct of the matter.

Senior caseworkers

  • Senior caseworkers have conduct of all matters.
  • Senior caseworkers should delegate tasks to casework assistants, but remain responsible for the progress and overall conduct of the matter.

Supervising senior caseworkers

Supervising senior caseworkers and senior caseworkers must delegate tasks to casework assistants (CA) and trainee casework assistants (TCA). Contract-holders must maintain ratio of a maximum 2 FTE CAs or TCAs to every 1 FTE senior caseworker or supervising senior caseworker. Supervising senior caseworkers can have conduct of all matters.

Supervising senior caseworkers have responsibility for:

  • Supervision of up to 4 supervisees (FTE).
  • Supervision and training of casework assistants and trainees, including ensuring that the allocation of tasks is appropriate by reference to capability, capacity and progress towards accreditation as a senior caseworker.
  • Supervision and training of senior caseworkers.
  • Allocation of matters to senior caseworkers, including to themselves.

Legal Aid Agency work restrictions - reserved matters and tasks.

To be conducted only by senior caseworkers. These cannot be delegated:

  • All matters for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and other minors.
  • All matters for those who lack capacity within the meaning of section 2 of the Mental Capacity Act 2005.
  • All matters for clients detained at an IRC (Immigration Removal Centre).
  • Exercise of delegated function to grant CLR (including when this is conducted at legal help level).

The Legal Aid Agency has confirmed to the Law Society that tasks in CLR matters can be delegated to casework assistants, provided the matter or task is not reserved.

The above restrictions apply only to work undertaken under the new civil contract commencing on 1 September 2018. Work carried out after 1 September 2018 under earlier civil contracts will be subject to current restrictions.