Jessica is an experienced immigration practitioner, undertaking work on a private and publicly-funded basis. She frequently appears in the first-tier and upper tribunals in both immigration and asylum cases and is regularly led in cases of significant legal value.
She advises businesses on day-to-day immigration issues, including applying for and maintaining sponsor licences and navigating the Resident Labour Market Test and is often instructed on cases with overlapping employment issues.
Jessica has considerable experience in working with vulnerable clients, including clients who lack capacity to give evidence or conduct proceedings.
Prior to joining the Bar, Jessica worked in the pro bono department at Hogan Lovells LLP, advising and representing clients in a range of immigration-related matters. She managed the Hogan Lovells anti-human trafficking work, providing legal support and representation to victims of human trafficking and modern slavery alongside charities such as Kalayaan and the Poppy Project. Jessica also managed the Body and Soul Legal Clinic together with solicitors from Wilson Solicitors, providing immigration advice to individuals and families affected by HIV. Jessica continues to undertake pro bono work in these areas.
Jessica holds a European Master’s Degree in Human Rights and Democratisation from the European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation in Venice and Montpellier, where her research specialised in the rights of refugees in France and the UK.
"Jessica is an excellent all-rounder: clever, inventive and hardworking."
Legal 500 2023
"Jessica is a favourite of my lay clients because she puts them at ease and is able to explain legal complexities in a way that can be understood. She is always prepares very thoroughly and has a very good strategic brain."
Legal 500 2022
"Ms Smeaton's written advocacy is also very clear, thorough and succinct, with persuasive and cogent submissions."
Legal 500 2021
“Gives clear and constructive guidance in a practical way and has a calm and sympathetic manner.”
Legal 500 2020
“Very thorough, clear and efficient.” “An excellent junior who puts clients at ease, is very responsive and is wholly engaged with the client and the case.”
Chambers UK 2020
AG (Russia) v SSHD 
Acted for the appellant asylum seeker, a high-profile Russian blogger and convert to Islam who the tribunal accepted was at risk as a result of her membership of a particular social group, namely ethnic Russian converts to Islam
R (A; Pakistan) v SSHD 
Acted for the claimant in judicial review proceedings concerning the interplay between asylum claims and paragraph 276ADE(1)(vi) of the Immigration Rules (very significant obstacles to integration). Tribunal accepted claimant was entitled to raise issues pertaining to safety in Pakistan and societal discrimination within the ambit of paragraph 276ADE and article 8 ECHR, notwithstanding her reluctance to claim asylum
R (on the application of Sharfi) v SSHD 
Judicial review challenging a refusal of further leave to remain as a tier 1 entrepreneur on the basis of deficiencies in the evidence that the Home Office were aware of, and did not act on, four years earlier when entry clearance was granted
R (on the application of BK (Sri Lanka)) v SSHD (ongoing)
Led by S Chelvan in an appeal against refusal of permission to apply for judicial review. Appeal will consider the lawfulness of decisions made under the 2005 Fast-track Procedure Rules
R (on the application of Apata) v SSHD  EWCA Civ 802
Led by S Chelvan in an appeal challenging the dismissal of a judicial review challenge in a case concerning risk on return due to actual or perceived sexual identity
MA (Eritrea) v SSHD  EWCA Civ 1608;  12 WLUK 531
Appeared unled at the Court of Appeal on an appeal regarding risk to non-credible Eritreans
R (on the application of Kumar)  EWHC 652 (Admin);  3 WLUK 317 (and  EWHC 861 (Admin)
Judicial review challenging the failure of immigration offers to follow proper procedures during enforcement visits. Addressed the issue of whether judicial review or an out of country right of appeal was the appropriate remedy
B Ltd (a company) v SSHD:
County court appeal against the imposition of a civil penalty for employing individuals with no right to work in the UK
BF (Tirana – gay men) CG  UKUT 93
Led by S Chelvan in country guidance case on the position of gay men in Tirana, Albania
SM (Algeria) v ECO  UKSC 9;  1 WLR 1035
Led by Ramby de Mello in an appeal concerning the rights of an Algerian child adopted under Algerian law to entry clearance in the UK under the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006
R (on the application of Byndloss and Kiarie)  UKSC 42;  1 WLR 2380
Led by Manjit Gill QC in an appeal challenging the controversial ‘deport first appeal later’ provisions. Supreme Court ruled system unlawful, holding that the public interest in the removal of an appellant in advance of his appeal is outweighed by the public interest that a right of appeal should be effective
LC (Albania) v SSHD  EWCA Civ 351;  1 WLR 4173
Led by S Chelvan in an appeal challenging the lawfulness of the discretion test laid down in HJ (Iran) in LGBTI asylum claims and the Home Office’s continued reliance on a country guidance case which had been set aside five years earlier
AA (Iraq) v SSHD  1 WLR 1083
Led by Danny Bazini in an appeal against the Upper Tribunal’s country guidance decision in AA (article 15(c)) CG. Appeal challenged the tribunal’s approach to the possession of an Iraq CSID card
Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association
Bar Vocational Course
European Master’s Degree in Human Rights and Democratisation