19 May 2016
Justice is blind, we are told, handing out her decisions impartially. That’s great, but unfortunately now she is deaf, dumb and toothless as well.
As the “hostile climate” that the government seeks to create for migrants gets bedded into UK society, the latest victim is justice. Piece by piece, the formally robust appeal system is being dismantled, leaving you and me – the ordinary person on the street – with nowhere to go if our immigration application is refused, and no higher authority than the Home Office to turn to.
The first sign that the appeal system was being dismantled came last year, when the amount of time dedicated to immigration appeals dropped dramatically. From an average of three to four months between lodging an appeal and getting a hearing before an Immigration Judge, it now takes something like 18 months, as an increasing number of hearing rooms are closed and hearing centres that used to be busy, buzzing places now look like ghost towns, with just a handful of appeals heard each day.
Then came the proposal to increase appeal fees by more than 500%, taking the fees for an oral hearing from £140 to £800. The Home Office acknowledge that this will mean that many people will no longer be able to afford to appeal, but nonetheless, that is what they propose to do. You can do your bit to try and stop this by signing the petition against the fee increase.
The latest blow to the appeal system has come with the new Immigration Act 2016, which takes away the right to remain in the UK while you are in the appeal process. Though the Act has been passed, this has not come into effect as yet, but it is only a matter of time.
Never, ever, EVER has it been so important to make sure that your application is perfect, with nothing left to chance and no loose ends that would give the Home Office a reason to refuse it.