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Visa advice terms of service

Points Based System: Student Route

Meeting OISC Code of Standards

  1. Confidentiality statement
  2. Supervision/consultation

The Visa Support Team will take all reasonable steps to ensure that any information regarding a student or any other person being advised remains confidential to the Team.  Students should be aware, however, that in order to fulfil the University’s obligations to the Home Office, it may be necessary for the Visa Support Team to share information with other members of staff and the Home Office.

The Visa Support Team recognises that information may need to be shared when advisers discuss cases to monitor quality and for purposes of training and supervision.  Staff in the Visa Support Team will ensure that any such discussions will take place in an appropriate environment and that anyone involved in the discussions is aware of and will follow this confidentiality policy.

We may also consult a third party, for example, the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA).  This will be with the student’s prior consent and we do not identify the student by their name in such instances.  The purpose of doing this is so that we can offer the student clear, accurate and professional advice.

  1. Liaison and correspondence
  2. Conflict of interest & referrals (Codes 20 & 22) & Point 9 of the Code of Ethics

Contact with a third party, for example the Home Office or a Lawyer will only be made with the express written permission from the student.

A conflict of interest can arise where it is not in the best interest of the student for the Visa Support Team to act on behalf of the student (s).  Employees of the University of Bradford have a duty to meet the University’s Student Visa sponsor licence duties and these will result in a conflict of interest.  The student should be advised about this and agree to sign our Student Consent Form (Appendix 4) before we continue to advise the student.

In the event that we are unable to advise the student we will explain why this is and advise them to get independent immigration advice.  They will be given the OISC Adviser Finder page.

  1. Record keeping
  2. Statistics

It is professional practice for advisers to keep records on students and their enquiries.  All students who come to see the Visa Support Team for immigration advice will be asked to sign a Consent Form (Appendix 4) agreeing to notes being kept a Client Care Letter (Appendix 5).  If a student feels unable to give permission for us to keep confidential case notes, we regret that we will be unable to offer them advice.  We can, however, meet with them to discuss their reservations and give information on possible referrals to another service.

At the initial appointment the adviser will complete a Client Care Letter (Appendix 5); for extension and Visa Errors applications the Student Visa Application Checking Form (Appendix 6) and Application Receipt Form (Appendix 7) are also completed.  These confirm the student enquiry, advice given by the adviser and actions agreed by the student and adviser.  The sheet is signed by the adviser and student and a copy is given to the student whilst the original is kept in the student’s case file.

All individual case notes and correspondence, whether recorded on paper or in an electronic format, are kept confidential and will be held for a period of six years in accordance with the provisions of the Code of Standards and other guidance published by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner.  The data is also held and processed in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (fully implemented on 1 January 2005) and within the limits agreed with the University of Bradford requirements.

The Visa Support Team monitors the level of usage and quality of the advice and services provided through statistical records.  Any statistical records published will be produced in an anonymous format so that individuals cannot be identified.

  1. The UKCISA Code of Ethics and its commentary June 2015 & Commissioner’s Guidance Notes to accompany the Code of Standards April 2016

The Visa Support Team uses the UKCISA Code of Ethics and Commissioner’s Guidance Notes to accompany the Code of Standards principles to promote professionalism and adhere to the OISC requirements, whilst balancing the duty of care to the student with the UKVI compliance requirements.

Please see the electronic document for the Commissioner's Guidance Notes to accompany the Code of Standards April 2016.

Office of Immigration Services Commissioner: Immigration Advice Requirements

Codes 27 and 28 - Confidentiality

Advisers are under a duty to ensure that information relating to their clients is kept

  1. Advisers must ensure that information is accessible only to those authorised to have access to it. Certain types of information such as communication between the client and their adviser, the client’s personal details or their financial records must not be discussed or divulged to third parties.

Advisers are responsible for the conduct of those who undertake work on their behalf. They must ensure that all staff are aware of the need to handle and dispose of confidential material securely, including electronic data.

There are exceptions to the strict confidentiality requirements such as when required by statute, by court order or by the Commissioner.

Codes 53 to 57 - Records and case management

An “adequate record” of interactions would include everything relevant to the client’s case. It must include details of instructions taken, advice given (including the merits of any proposed action), action taken and by whom, and any other relevant matters. Interactions include communications by telephone and e-mail.

The attendance note of any meeting or conversation between the adviser, the client and any relevant third party (for e.g. the Home Office) must include a full record of their discussion. The note of the first substantive meeting/conversation between the client and their adviser must include full details of their discussion of the client’s immigration history, the instructions taken, any advice given and action agreed.

Case records should include copies of any relevant correspondence with the client or third parties, including copies of applications and supporting evidence. Correspondence includes e-mail correspondence. Client records must be maintained in an orderly manner with the progress of each case being clearly recorded. Client records must be capable of being easily understood by colleagues and others.

When writing to the client and other interested parties such as the Home Office, correspondence from advisers must include the adviser’s full name, address, name of the registered organisation for which they work and their job title.

Registered organisations must maintain a full list of all their clients. This must include, where relevant, each client’s name, date of birth, Home Office reference number, the type of application made and the date that the case was opened and closed, including the outcome of the matter.

The Code requires that all client records are kept for at least six years. This requirement applies even if the client’s records have been transferred to a new advice organisation or given to the client. A copy of the client’s file must be retained even if the original file is no longer held by the organisation.

Source: Commissioner’s Guidance Notes to accompany the Code of Standards April 2016