About RLAP

RLAP is a clinical legal education project which provides free legal assistance to refugees who wish to bring their family members to the UK. RLAP is hosted by the Centre for Research in Law of the University of Bedfordshire, and is run in conjunction with Bedfordshire Refugees and Asylum Seekers Support (BRASS).

The RLAP team is made up of student volunteers who are specifically trained to guide refugees throughout the application process and assist them in filling in the relevant Refugee Family Reunion application forms and preparing the necessary documentation to support their family’s applications.

The students operate under the supervision of a university lecturer and an Advisor registered with the Office of the Immigration Service Commissioner (OISC).

The project was established in 2013 to respond to the withdrawal of publicly funded legal assistance for Refugee Family Reunion applications.

Refugees are among the most vulnerable individuals affected by the cuts in legal aid, and the possibility of being reunited with their families is not only a legal right for them, but also an essential precondition for starting to rebuild a life in a new community and becoming a valued and integrated member of society.

Over the years, RLAP has assisted with the submission of over 100 successful applications.

Events and Projects

CRiL fellows at RLAP also participate in conferences and seminars to share their academic research and experience within RLAP.

The latest such event was "The Duty to Rescue at Sea in the Case of Sea Watch 3: An Italian Affair Only?". 

People at sea

The webinar [PDF] was organised by the University of Naples L'Orientale in conjunction with the Centre for Research in Law of the University of Bedfordshire as it occurred on 3 November 2020.

The webinar started from a compelling interview which summarised the main events that led to the creation of a 'Sea Watch 3' case. This laid the ground for the following discussion on the issue of Search & Rescue (S&R ) operations in the Mediterranean, with specific reference to the duty to rescue at sea under international law and the position of Italy in the case at stake in light of the so-called 'Salvini Decrees' criminalising S&R operations.

The issue of S&R operations and deaths at sea in the context of the English Channel was also addressed, highlighting how safe and legal routes to protection constitute the only way to avoid refugees' deadly journeys to reach sanctuary.

The webinar benefited from the participation of Ms Haidi Sadik, member of the Sea Watch 3 crew); Dr Elena Gualco (Lecturer in Law at the University of Bedfordshire; presentation prepared with Dr Silvia Borelli, Principal Lecturer in Public International Law at the University of Bedfordshire); and Giuseppe Cataldi (Professor in International Law at the University of Naples L'Orientale).


RLAP is based at the Luton campus.

University of Bedfordshire
University Square
Luton, Bedfordshire


Need Assistance with your Family Reunion Application?

If you want to book an appointment, you can contact us at rlap@beds.ac.uk