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Marriages to Foreign Nationals under the Spotlight

The Marriages and Civil Partnerships Regulations 2015 and associated Orders come into effect on 2 March 2015. Many non-UK nationals who are planning to marry in the UK will face tougher checks by the Home Office in an effort to crack down on sham marriages. The new rules will also apply to civil partnerships.

If one of the parties to a proposed marriage or civil partnership is a non-UK/non-EEA national with limited or no status then the proposed marriage or civil partnership will be referred to the Home Office before the ceremony is allowed to take place. Those present in the UK with indefinite leave to remain, EU right of permanent residence or right of abode will not be referred but they must evidence their status adequately when giving notice.

Key points of the new scheme:

  • All couples in the UK planning to marry must now give notice of their intention to do so 28 days before marrying(previously the notice period was 15 days);
  • Non-UK/non-EEA nationals with limited or no status in the UK who give notice to marry or enter into a civil partnership will be referred to the Home Office;
  • Those couples referred to the Home Office may be required to wait 70 daysbefore marrying if a decision is taken to investigate the relationship;
  • Non-UK/non EEA nationals who wish to marry in the Anglican Church will now be required to give noticeat a register office also.
  • EEA nationals (including British citizens) will need to provide specified evidenceof their citizenship to the Anglican Church prior to being married by the church.
  • All non-UK/non-EEA nationals who are not exempt from immigration control will now need to give notice of their marriage at a designated register office (there will be 75 such designated offices nationwide) rather than at the office in the district in which they reside.

Orders are in place which extend the referral and investigation scheme to Scotland and Northern Ireland and transitional arrangements are in place for couples who have given notice prior to 2 March 2015.


Couples who will be subject to referral may wish to seek immigration advice prior to giving notice of their intention to marry.

For further inormation please contact Nigel Smith at or 0115 9644 132.

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Nottingham solicitor joins Legal Aid Agency Review Panel

Nottingham solicitor, Mark Lilley-Tams of Immigration law firm Paragon Law has been selected as an Independent Funding Adjudicator of the Legal Aid Agency.

The Government’s Legal Aid Agency makes decisions on whether a legal case merits legal aid funding. Mr Lilley-Tams’ responsibility as an Adjudicator will be to review decisions taken by The Agency on such matters and he will also review decisions of legal representatives who refuse to represent their client’s on legal aid.

Nationally there are currently 26 Adjudicators with specialist immigration and asylum knowledge.

Mr Lilley-Tams, who heads up Paragon Law’s personal immigration department said that “at a time when legal aid cuts have meant that fewer people will qualify for legal representation I see my role as an incredibly important public function which I hope will ensure that those who are entitled to legal aid funding will receive it and therefore ensuring that justice prevails”.

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Paragon Law Has Eyes On Growth in 2015

(Left to Right – Emily Bodden-Burton, Wayne Cartlidge, Stewart MacLachlan, Thalej Vasishta and Monica Kainja)


Immigration law firm Paragon Law have recruited 4 new members to their legal team.


Nottingham Law School graduate Emily Bodden-Burton has been awarded the Paragon Law scholarship which means that she will be funded by the firm to complete a part-time 2 year Masters programme in International Human Rights at the University of Nottingham whilst gaining practical work experience and training with Paragon.


Monica Kainja joins Paragon Law from Yorkshire firm Halliday Reeves and Stewart MacLachlan has moved to Nottingham having previously worked as a solicitor with the Legal Services Agency in Scotland.  Both join the firm’s human rights team working primarily with Social Services departments with regards to unaccompanied asylum seeking children and women who have been victims of trafficking and torture.


Ex-armed forces, Wayne Cartlidge after sustaining injuries was funded by the army to complete his Certificate in Personnel Practice and then worked as a Human Resources Manager with the British Armed Forces for 9 years.  He then held a similar role with Notts NHS Trust before working with Dell Inc as a Senior Immigration Analyst for 5 years.  Wayne joins Paragon Law’s corporate immigration department to assist their clients in employing skilled foreign migrants and sponsorship compliance.


Thalej Vasishta, the firm’s Managing Director said that all the new members of the team will add value to the services that Paragon Law offer to their clients.  He said, “I am particularly delighted that after a period of an inertia, the firm is back on track to growth.   We will be advertising further roles shortly both in our legal and support teams”.

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A Christmas Message from Paragon Law

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Paragon Law MD, Thalej Vasishta, reports on a trade delegation to India:-

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Paragon Law – A Top Tier Immigration Law Firm

The latest addition of the Chambers and Partners Directory rankings of the legal profession once again places Paragon Law as a regional heavyweight in immigration law, with 4 of their solicitors listed as leading individuals, with only 3 other firms (Bindmans LLP, Wesley Gryk Solicitors LLP and Wilson Solicitors LLP) based in London having the same number of ranked lawyers.


Paragon Law is particularly recognised for their “impressive expertise” for their work for corporate clients with regards to Tier 2 personnel, international students, educational institutions and personal immigration matters.


Legal Services Director, Kirin Abbas, who heads the teams that work for HR personnel and educational institutions is described as a “standout lawyer” who “is very commercial and has a good team around her”.



Kirin Abbas, Legal Services Director


Thalej Vasishta, the firm’s Managing Director, who works predominantly on inward investment projects and advising large corporations who employ foreign migrants on their HR systems and procedures, has been recognised for his work with international companies that are setting up in the UK and transferring skilled employees.  He is also praised for his outbound advice to businesses that are setting up in India and China.



Thalej Vasishta, Managing Director


Star Associate, Deirdre Sheahan, heads up the firm’s Asylum and Human Rights Department and is recognised for her work on “some of the ground-breaking civil liberties and refugee-related immigration cases of the past few years”.  Deirdre’s team act for a number of Local Authorities who have responsibility for asylum seeking children and consequently her case in the European Court of Human Rights, MA, BT and DA v Secretary of State for the home Department added value to this vulnerable group by confirming that unaccompanied children seeking asylum should have their claims dealt with in the country that they are currently in.


Deirdre Sheahan, Associate


Rising star and Associate, Mark Lilley-Tams, is the firm’s joint head of the personal immigration department who has been recognised as “an experienced and talented practitioner who has been involved in several key cases before the Supreme Court and European Court of Human Rights”.  A particular case of Mark’s that is recognised is R (Rostami) v Secretary of State for the Home Department which was a test case challenging the limitation by which asylum seekers can only work in jobs on the “Shortage Occupation List”. 



Mark Lilley-Tams, Associate


Thalej Vasishta said, “We have established a national and increasingly international reputation for our immigration law work.  I am extremely proud of the lawyers who have been recognised as they are all home grown talent that have been with Paragon Law since they left law school.  However, I am equally proud of the teams that they have head up and in my view we could easily have 2 or 3 of our other lawyers ranked amongst the best in the UK”


Mr Vasishta went on to say, “with 16 lawyers we are one of the largest immigration law teams in the country.  Each of our lawyers specialises in specific areas of immigration law which results in a deeper level of knowledge and ultimately service to our clients.  Ultimately, we are only as good as our clients and the intermediaries that we work with.  It is to them that I would like to ultimately thank for having faith in us and supporting our work over the last decade since we have been in business”

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Paragon Law Supports Legal Excellence

Paragon Law has a long tradition of supporting excellence in the local legal profession. Recently, two of our lawyers, Deirdre Sheahan and Nigel Smith attended an awards evening at Nottingham Law School to present Paragon Law sponsored awards for Best LLM and Best International Student.

Congratulations to all those involved in the event and we look forward to all students having a successful legal career ahead of them.







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Paragon Law Involved in Building International Bridges to Nottingham

Please see below for an article on how Paragon Law was involved in building international bridges to Nottingham-

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Paragon Law Charity Bike Ride – 5th October 2014

Paragon Law has a long, sometimes painful, always tiring, tradition of supporting charitable causes both nationally and locally. Previous years have seen our team members undertake the National 3 Peaks Challenge, the Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge, and a 50 mile return walk from Nottingham to Newark and back again. This year saw us completing a 50 mile return bike ride from Nottingham to Calke Abbey to Nottingham in support of the Rik Basra Leukaemia Appeal, a fantastic local charity with a an inspiring personal story at its heart.

Initially scheduled for Saturday 4th October but postponed until Sunday 5th due to a particularly nasty band of weather circling in from the North Atlantic, we were a small but dedicated team of 5. Convincing the Irish member of the team of the incapacitating nature of wet leaves on the British psyche and therefore the need to postpone by one day meant that we were hoping for much better conditions on the Sunday and we were not disappointed.


At 8.00am on Nottingham Embankment, in the shadow of Trent Bridge, we were faced with the glorious sight of a cold morning sun and mist swirling over the surface of the Trent, with only Canada geese and some early morning rowers for company. After obligatory “before” photographs courtesy of the passing rowing coach, we commenced our journey along the scenic banks of the River Trent and on to the Trent Navigation Canal. Passing through some picturesque settings with the idyllic sound of local church bells calling locals to Sunday Service we made good progress in high spirits along the flat and generally well cared-for route.


With the sun now making a full appearance and highlighting a beautiful autumnal day things were warming up in many ways. Leaving the cycle paths and joining the main roads we were faced with a long, if not particularly steep, climb uphill into the village of Castle Donnington. Heads down, teeth-gritted we felt we were making good (but not spectacular) progress, that is at least until a local cycling group on road bikes came past us with absolute ease at twice our speed to put any lingering thoughts of joining Le Tour next year firmly out of our minds. Pausing at the top of the hill to take in the view of the planes taking off from East Midlands Airport to our left and the sounds of cars buzzing around Donnington Park Race Track in the distance on our right, we sampled the recuperative powers of flapjack, water and (for one person) an impromptu toilet break behind some trees in the centre of a roundabout, ready to complete the remaining 11 miles to the half-way point of Calke Abbey.


This was an 11 miles of thigh-burning climbs followed by steep downhill freewheeling, tempered by the thought that some of the exhilarating downhill bits would be lung-busting uphill sections on the return journey. The pain of the steepness of some of the roads was made far easier by the distracting beauty of Derbyshire as well as being part of a supportive team and remembering that it was for a more than worthwhile cause.


By 11.30 our wobbly legs had reached the imposing buildings of Calke Abbey. This is perhaps the part where most people would reflect on how this is a Grade 1 protected stately home which has been preserved as an example of a story of the decline of a country house estate, maybe even drawing metaphoric parallels between the decline of the buildings and how our bodies were feeling after the initial 25 miles. No. All we can say is that the £2.50 we each individually paid for a warm, if slightly soggy, cheese slice was the best money we had parted with in a long time. Each minute spent savouring the food and coffee allowed us to get some strength back into our weary legs before the return journey.


We had a different route home planned to make it a more interesting journey, but this wasn’t aided by the fact that the sat-nav applications on our phones were draining the batteries at an alarming rate. The laws of physics dictated that the return journey would be far more downhill than up, for which we are forever endebted to Einstein, Rutherford or whoever it was who invented this. It was slightly more uphill for one member of our team who had the unerring ability to charge off in front at enormous speeds downhill before realising that they were not aware of the turning we needed to take part-way down the hill and therefore requiring an unscheduled climb back up the hill. Although this person will remain nameless, let’s just say that the danger of wet leaves and the importance of staying close to the person who has the map are two important life skills learnt by them over the course of the weekend.



The return route took us via the upper reaches of the Trent Navigation Canal along a tow-path which has not seen a great deal of footfall (or wheelfall) over recent years which meant that we had to follow a hypnotic rutted trail on the narrow banks for a good few miles which considerably slowed our progress home. The challenging terrain meant that one team member took a much closer look at the ground when taking an unscheduled dive from her bike, inches away from the murky-looking water.


A lunch break in Sawley created legal arguments over the definition of “lite bites” on the pub menu after portions the size of a house led to only half-joking suggestions of hiring a narrow boat for the rest of the journey home.


The weather continued to be kind to us and the gods of battery-life had decreed that we would have enough juice left to allow us to get to the part of the return journey that we had used for the outward leg, but tiredness was setting in and the “lite bite” was beginning to set. Conversation was at a low point, other than complaints about which unmentionable parts of the body hurt the most and with a resolute determination we counted down the miles back to Trent Bridge. What had seemed like an exciting and short route on the way out had somehow turned into a never-ending repeat pattern of fields and paths.


Finally, we reached the welcome sight of the Embankment which even a sudden strong headwind which made us feel like we were riding through sand couldn’t stop a smile being raised for. The inevitable “sprint for the line” meant that the yellow jersey went to an unexpected candidate but we had started as a team and more importantly this was how we had finished. 50ish miles, 5 people, 8 hours and a bit total journey time with money and publicity raised for an amazing cause is not a bad way to spend your Sunday. Not that we want to do it again anytime soon you understand? No, next year’s challenge will definitely involve narrow boats – that seems like something far more relaxing right?



The team members were (from left to right) :-

Deirdre Sheahan; Zhiwen Guan; Nigel Smith; Mark Lilley-Tams; Marcus Worthington.

To donate please visit


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Unemployment in the UK by Ethnic Background & Age and Ethnic Background & Gender


To follow are two tables setting out the ONS Annual Population Survey which shows unemployment by ethnic background and age or gender.  Key points are as follows:


  • The figures do not include migrants who are in the UK on temporary visas.


  • There is high youth unemployment and this is disproportionately higher in Black, Asian and “other” ethnic backgrounds.


  • When you look at the rate for “all ethnic backgrounds” you will note that there is little or no difference when compared to the overall population however, unemployment amongst the Black community is too high and any initiatives that tackle this problem should be endorsed.


  • Figures in the Black, Asian and Other categories should be broken down further, e.g. African, Indian, Pakistani etc to determine whether specific work is needed in particular communities.






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