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Introduction to UK immigration law and becoming an immigration advisor
Introduction to UK immigration law and becoming an immigration advisor

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6 Taking instructions

Taking instructions – the process where the OISC adviser finds out from the client the facts of a case, gives the client advice on what to do and receives directions (instructions) from the client of what they want the advisor to do next – is an important first step in providing advice.

Anyone who takes instructions usually needs to:

  • listen effectively and actively
  • ask questions (think in advance what the purpose of or reason for the question is)
  • take notes, which need to be a complete and accurate record of the conversation
  • keep records of the conversation securely
  • comply with data protection legislation
  • ensure confidentiality
  • adopt an ethical approach, following professional standards.

Some of these points are similar to what is in the OISC’s Code of Standards.

Traditionally, instructions were always taken with the client – the individual making an immigration application – in a face-to-face interview. Where that is not possible, you need to ensure that your client is providing information willingly, without pressure from anyone else and on a secure medium.

A client will not necessarily know what information is needed and why.

Questions play a key role in obtaining all the necessary information. Using a standard set of questions will help you to take instructions, but every case is different: it’s important to be alert to additional information that may be of relevance and (from the facts your client has provided) to elicit information which you sense might be relevant.

A client has the right to request that the interview be recorded.

Activity 5: Note-taking

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

Watch Video 1 and think about how you would take notes. How would you use those notes to produce a summary of information? Use the space below to record your thoughts.

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Video 1 An overview of the UK’s legal systems and legislatures.
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Taking notes can help you to actively engage with the content of what you have listened to or read. Turning a conversation, interview or text into your own words helps to sharpen your understanding and focus your thinking.

The key to successful note-taking is to create notes that suit your purpose rather than writing large amounts of text, which make it difficult to find key information. Different forms of note-taking will suit different individuals and different situations: you are likely to use different methods for interviewing someone or summarising text. What is important is that you discover the method that works best for you.

When you summarise UK Government policy or legislation, for example, try to write your notes in your own words, because this will help you to understand what you have read. You should also note down which page, paragraph or section of the text that your notes refer to, so that you can easily find your way back to the relevant part.

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When you make notes, you should also consider:

  • how easy they will be to read and understand – will you be able to read and understand them again after a few days?
  • what level of detail you need to include
  • how concise they are
  • how you order and organise them
  • creating a summary (synopsis) of key points
  • indicating which next steps need to be taken.