Immigration and asylum became the prominent topics of 2015 in the UK, with large numbers of anti-immigration voters marking an X next to UKIP on their general election ballot slips. Conversely, others were moved and outraged by the tragic image of a young boy's body washed up on a beach, the casualty of a family's journey across sea to find safer shores. Newspaper headlines shout out new figures each week: how many refugees the UK will accept, the percentage of the population considered to be migrants, or the social cost and benefits of migration. The 2016 referendum on the UK's membership of the EU also throws into light how quickly and dramatically immigration rules can be subject to change. Immigration seems to be the topic that everyone has an opinion on, but few are truly qualified on the legalities of the subject.
When studying an LLM program specialising in immigration law, students will study a range of modules to hone legal expertise in this field. Students are likely to explore immigration at local and international levels; the human side of immigration; the laws in place to govern international movement; and the rationale behind legal guidelines and their enforcement. Modules of study will include EU Immigration Law, International Refugee Law, Free Movement of Peoples in the EU, Cultural Diversity, Ethics of Migration and Asylum, amongst others. Some modules will be compulsory, and others can be approached as a 'pic-n-mix' for your particular interests or professional needs. There may also be opportunities for relevant placements and internships.
An LLM alone is not a key to the door of a profession, but for those already qualified, it is a great way to specialise in an aspect of law and make yourself more employable or more effective. With immigration laws changing all the time in the current climate, immigration specialists are needed more than ever. Barristers and solicitors are able to use the LLM to refine their skills, perhaps becoming the 'go-to' immigration lawyer in a firm, or gaining the 'edge' over competing applicants to other firms. Meanwhile, other students of the LLM Immigration may go into roles in academia, public services (such as social care, or immigration office roles), or even working for the UN.
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