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Emma Brooksbank

Emma Brooksbank


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Emma specialises in business immigration work and has over ten years’ experience working with Russell Group universities and national and multi-national businesses. For many businesses navigating the immigration system is one of the only ways to secure the highly skilled, specialist employees they need to grow their business. The immigration system is however complex and ever changing and mistakes can cause delay and additional expense in securing vital recruitment. Emma’s expertise will ensure that your business can implement its recruitment strategy on an international basis without immigration ever being an issue that you need to worry about.

Emma works for clients of all sizes in both public and private sectors. She secures visas for clients looking to set up their business in the UK and secures sponsor licences for UK businesses intending to recruit from overseas.  Her objective is always to make the immigration system work for Freeths’ clients and their businesses.

Emma advises businesses, the education and health sector on how to mitigate the impact of Brexit with a view to retaining their workforce. She also assists businesses to ensure they have strategies in place to achieve right to work compliance and to protect against the reputational and financial impact of the civil penalty regime.

Emma is recognised by Chambers (2020 edition) as a Leading Individual.

Legal Services

Business Immigration

The manufacturing sector has a similar immigration demographic to the food, drink and hospitality sector. They will share concerns about the impact of Brexit and about retaining and recruiting an adequate workforce post Brexit. They will also benefit from the Right to Work app and from immigration compliance work to prevent any inadvertent breach of immigration law.

Recent Work

  • Undertaking Brexit seminar and advisory sessions for a leading manufacturer of plastics, cellular and microcellular materials.
  • Acting as Tier 2 advisor for the UK subsidiary of a Japanese manufacturing company.


  • Zotefoams (not current)
  • Kratos Analytical (not current)




Universities operate on an international level when recruiting and retaining staff and attracting international students. Emma has acted as a specialist advisor to the University of Leeds for over 7 years. She has successfully secured visas and challenged visa refusals by way of judicial review litigation to enable the University to fill a number of high profile senior posts.

Emma advises senior members of the HR team and the International Office on relevant changes to immigration law and on how to mitigate the impact of Brexit. She runs regular seminars at the University and is retained to offer one to one advice sessions to all staff. Emma also advises the University of Huddersfield on post study options for their students. She is retained by the UK’s largest private education provider of aviation training and work in collaboration with an overseas embassy to secure study visas for their students.


  • Securing a Tier 2 visa for a high profile new chair to be appointment at the School of Law at the University of Leeds.
  • Challenging the refusal of a visa for a Cheney Fellowship post by way of judicial review litigation.
  • Securing study visas for cohorts of aviation students.


  • University of Leeds (can be approached for a testimonial)
  • University of Huddersfield (can be approached for a testimonial)
  • Global ATS (Aviation Training Services) (can be approached for a testimonial)


The food, drink and hospitality sector rely on an international workforce. A quarter of the food industry’s staff come from mainland Europe. The sector is one of the UK’s largest private employers of staff. The sector is particularly alert to the impact that changes to the immigration regime following Brexit will have on the availability and affordability of retaining staffing at current levels. The sector must also take steps to protect itself from the impact of the reputational damage and cost of the civil penalty regime for illegal working. This has particular relevance in sectors with high staff levels and high staff turnover.

Emma has advised HR professionals on the potential impact of Brexit for the retention and recruitment of their staff. We offer an audit, advisory and training service to prevent illegal working and can incorporate our Right to Work app as a simple, secure compliance tool for businesses operating in the sector.


The most relevant examples for this sector will be the extensive work that Tom Bradford has been undertaking for Aldi Stores Limited and 2 Sisters Food Group Limited.

He has undertaken the following:

  • Being retained by Aldi Stores Limited to undertake risk assessment and right to work checks on company employees and to advise HR functions on right to work compliance with a view to reducing the risk of Home Office enforcement action and civil penalties being imposed;
  • Successfully challenging 10 civil penalties to reduce the liability for 2 Sisters Food Group Limited and undertaking litigation to challenge further civil penalties with a view to protecting the group from penalty and the risk of director disqualification.

Public Sector Health & Care

In a similar vein to the food, drinks and hospitality sector, the health and care sector is heavily reliant on an overseas work force and shares the same concerns about the impact of Brexit and about preventing illegal working and ensuring right to work compliance.

In addition to these concerns the health sector is one of the largest employees of staff under the points based system of the immigration rules. This enables employers, including all the major NHS Trusts to secure a licence for the employment of sponsored workers from outside the EU. This is particularly used for highly skilled staff, where there is a shortage of trained staff in the UK and where it is not possible to recruit from the resident labour market. The licence process and visa application process is technical and complex and requires expert guidance. Errors in the process can lead to the revocation of a licence. Retention of a licence is essential to keep all overseas staff in post and to be able to recruit new members of staff as demand requires.


  • Securing the reinstatement of a Tier 2 licence for a number of care homes, following Home Office enforcement action, suspension and revocation.
  • Advising the largest teaching NHS trust in the UK on the impact of Brexit for their international workforce.
  • Successfully challenging the refusal by UK Border Force to permit entry of an employee of a client following an unlawful curtailment of leave decision.
  • Securing a Tier 2 licence and visa for employees of a care home.


  • Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust
  • Villa Care Group Limited
  • Surrey Rest Homes Ltd
  • Park Lodge

Local Government

Emma has worked for Trafford Council, Leeds City Council, Wakefield Metropolitan District Council and she is currently retained by Darlington Borough Council.

In most cases she has been instructed as an immigration expert to advise the local authority on matters concerning Looked After Children (those in local authority care) who have an immigration status matter which requires advice and resolution. The matter Emma is currently retained on is a particularly complex settlement matter for two children in local authority care on which she has commenced judicial review proceedings. Her team has particular expertise in undertaking judicial review work.


  • Securing indefinite leave to remain for three siblings taken into the care of the local authority after being abandoned in the UK by their parents.
  • Securing British citizenship for two children with no immigration status who had been taken into local authority care following neglect by a parent.
  • Issuing judicial review proceedings to challenge the Home Office’s failure to grant status to two brothers in local authority care raising arguments under the European Convention of Human Rights.
  • Providing expert opinion to the Family Courts on complex jurisdictional matters of European law and residence rights in the context of an adoption matter with an international element.
  • Undertaking appeal work to the First Tier and Upper Tribunal, most particularly on Art 8 private and family life human rights cases.
    Conducting judicial review challenges to the application of Home Office policy in relation to the best interests of children in the UK.


  • Darlington Borough Council (can be approached for a testimonial)
  • Trafford Council



Related News & Articles [ 61 ]

To contact Emma or for more information…

Call: 0845 166 6300
Mobile: 0797 4 25 7071
Or email: Send an email


  • Trustee of PAFRAS
  • Specialist advisor to the Manuel Bravo Project
  • Immigration lecturer at BPP University

“The Business Immigration team’s support has been invaluable to the University over a number of years, and in particular lately on Brexit, enabling us to better support our international colleagues.

(Lisa Courtney, University of Leeds)

“Simpson Millar LLP’s ‘extremely helpful’ department is headed by the ‘passionate’ Emma Brooksbank, who primarily acts for businesses and clients in the higher education sector.”

(Legal 500 2016)

“…noted for handling legal challenges on human rights matters, including detention and deportation cases, as well as handling Judicial Review matters concerning naturalisation refusals and human rights-related decisions. Emma Brooksbank heads the immigration practice; her clients include the University of Leeds, which she has been advising on Tier 2 and Tier 5 applications, including an application for leave to remain under Tier 2 for a Syrian national employed by the university. Other key work included acting for care home operator Villa Care Limited in Judicial Review proceedings challenging the Home Office’s decision to revoke the client’s sponsor’s licence and seeking the reinstatement of the licence and Tier 2 visas for three employees.”

(Legal 500 2017 )

Emma Brooksbank of Simpson Millar LLP focuses on commercial immigration matters and regularly undertakes Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 5 related work. ‘Emma is knowledgeable, extremely competent and displays an excellent attitude towards her clients,’ comments one source. Emma Brooksbank is recommended as one to watch.

(Chambers and Partners 2017 - Ranked Lawyer)

“Emma represented me to successfully obtain both my limited leave and Indefinite leave to remain. She went out of her way to ensure that I was always kept up to date. Given the complexity of the case, Emma always provided me with helpful advice that was easy to understand and she assisted me in choosing the best avenue to take. She was always very empathetic and approachable, I would HIGHLY recommend her to anyone that requires representation including my friends and family. Thank you Emma for all your hard work, without you I wouldn’t be in the better position that I find myself in.”

(Jonathan Banda)

“What sets Emma above the bar is that she is approachable, available to speak too, reassuring, gives a measured thorough timely assessment of each and every application with a valued honest assessment with a fee analysis of potential cost with no hidden cost. Emma was able to problem solve in difficult circumstances being supportive to our staff and us as an organisation within the care education industry”

(Nicky Colley, Care Home Owner)

“The service you provided was perfect. I would definitely use your company again. Thank you”

(Junping Zhang)

“Our staff appreciate Emma’s regular updates and one to one advice – she is really good at explaining the complexities of Brexit in a clear way, and her updates are up to date and presented in the context of the latest available information”

(Lisa Courtney, University of Leeds)

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