Category

Appeals

What next for the appeal system?

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justice19 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.

immigration

Immigration Act 2016 published

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17 May 2016

The Immigration Act 2016 was published today.

It is a weighty tome (236 pages) and we haven’t had time to read and absorb it all as yet, but it is a depressing document, and as various parts of it are implemented it will continue to escalate the “hostile environment” which the government has so proudly created.

Penalties for illegal working – and for employing someone who doesn’t have the right to work in the UK – have increased, and landlords renting their houses to someone who is in the UK illegally could find themselves facing up to five years in jail, as well as a hefty fine. Employers registered on the Register of Sponsors will, from 17 July 2016, have to pay an “immigration skills charge” to sponsor someone from overseas.

But perhaps the saddest, most depressing part of this document is what, at first glance, appears to be the end of an in-country right of appeal.  Until now, even if your visa ran out you remained in the UK legally, as long as you had submitted your application whilst your visa was still valid, or as long as you were in the appeal process.  When section 64 of the new Act is implemented, you will be fine while your application is being considered, but if the application is refused, you will no longer be in the UK legally, and will only be able to appeal from overseas.

Watch this space – we’ll keep you updated as we get a better grip on the implications of this new Act.