home |adviser finder |PBS |information |complaints |assessment |CPD/training |about us
About the OISC
How the OISC came about
The Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 (Part V) established a scheme to regulate immigration advisers in the United Kingdom. The Act set up the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner(OISC) as an independent public body to ensure that immigration advisers are fit and competent and act in the best interests of their clients.

Since 30 April 2001 it has been a criminal offence for an adviser to provide immigration advice or services unless their organisation is either registered with the OISC or has been granted a certificate of exemption by the OISC. Or unless the organisation is otherwise covered by the Act (see Who we do not regulate).
What we do
The OISC is led by Immigration Services Commissioner Suzanne McCarthy and is responsible for
  1. regulating immigration advisers in accordance with the Commissioner's Code of Standards and Rules;
  2. processing applications for registration or exemption from immigration advisers;
  3. maintaining and publishing the register of advisers;
  4. promoting good practice by immigration advisers;
  5. receiving and handling complaints about immigration advisers; and
  6. taking criminal proceedings against advisers who are acting illegally.
Who we regulate
Unless otherwise covered by the Act (see Who we do not regulate) any person who provides immigration advice or services in the United Kingdom has to be regulated by the OISC. Advisers in the for profit sector must register with the OISC and pay an annual fee. Advisers in the not for profit sector must apply to the OISC for a certificate of exemption. All advisers are required to display their certificates of registration or exemption. This, together with the OISC's "global tick" logo, shows that an organisation has met the standards laid down by the OISC.
Who we do not regulate
Not all immigration advisers are regulated by the OISC. All regulated advisers must be in the United Kingdom and giving advice in the course of a business, (paid or unpaid). Members of certain professional bodies (referred to in the Act as the designated professional bodies) may give immigration advice without registering with the OISC, as can people working under their supervision. The designated professional bodies are:
  1. The Law Society;
  2. The Law Society of Scotland;
  3. The Law Society of Northern Ireland;
  4. The Institute of Legal Executives;
  5. The General Council of the Bar;
  6. The Faculty of Advocates;
  7. The General Council of the Bar of Northern Ireland;
State educational institutions and their student unions, together with health sector bodies, are similarly not regulated by the OISC, although they are required to comply with the Commissioners’s Code of Standards.

There is one other group not presently regulated by the OISC. Employers giving advice only to employees or prospective employees have been given a block exemption.
The Audit Committee
The audit committee supports the Commissioner in ensuring the OISC operates according to good corporate governance principles and has in place robust risk management and control systems. Its principle aims are to ensure the proper stewardship of the OISC's resources and assets, to oversee financial reporting by the OISC and to monitor the effectiveness of its internal and external audit arrangements. We are in the process of recruiting new members to our audit committee.

Please check back soon for details
One way in which the OISC will raise the standard of immigration advice is by investigating complaints about immigration advisers. We can take complaints about any immigration adviser, including members of the designated professional bodies and others who are not regulated by us. All complaints will be considered and the appropriate action taken.

Complaints may be made by anyone: clients, other advisers or members of the public. See Making a complaint for further details.