Right of appeal for visa applications to effectively close

The Immigration Act has now been enshrined into law. The Act contains significant amendments that any applicant for a UK visa, either from outside or inside the UK, should be aware of.

Previously, there were seventeen grounds under which a person could appeal against an immigration decision. These are now replaced with three; a ‘protection claim’ (i.e. a claim for refugee status or humanitarian protection), refusal of a human rights claim or a decision to revoke a person’s protection status.

This means that the vast majority of visa applications will no longer attract the right of appeal to an independent Immigration Judge. Instead, those applicants receiving a refusal will be entitled to have UK Visas and Immigration conduct an internal administrative review of the decision only. This causes obvious concern as there is a distinct lack of checks and balances, with the resulting fear that applications will not receive the necessary scrutiny. Furthermore, ambiguous terms contained within the Immigration Rules will no longer frequently be the subject of judicial interpretation.

Those who made their application in the UK before the expiry of their visa will be entitled to carry on living and working in the United Kingdom pending this process, as before. However, the only recourse post the administrative review, would be to seek a judicial review of the decision in the High Court, which can be a costly process, during which time a person will not be permitted to work.

It is therefore now more important than ever that a person seeks proper advice from regulated immigration advisors, before making an application for a visa, as there are now serious consequences for those facing a refusal.