How to challenge refusal of family visitor’s visa to the UK

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From 25 June, 2013 family visitors to the UK have no right of appeal against visa refusal except on the narrow grounds of discrimination or the breach of Human Rights. Immigration solicitors Kadmos Consultants discuss the implications of the new rules and the ways of challenging refusals.

Immigration Lawyers

Kadmos Consultants Immigration Lawyers London

It is not unusual for immigration officers to refuse by default all applications for visitor’s visa following refusal of spouse visa or child’s settlement application.

Right of appeal is an important mechanism safeguarding against improper use of authority. In a sphere as controversial as immigration this mechanism is gradually being taken away. Family visitor’s visa was first affected in July 2012 when the government reshaped the concept of “family visit” leaving it exclusively for children, parents, siblings and spouses. Other relatives, such as cousins, aunts, uncles, or nephews were then excluded from the definition of family visitors and had to apply for a general tourist visa, the refusal of which could only be challenged in immigration tribunals in exceptional circumstances.

From 25 July 2013 the legislation is amended so that even those who are still covered by the narrowed definition of family could not bring an immigration appeal against the visa refusal except for on the grounds of discrimination or breach of Human Rights (1).

Government statistics show that between 2004 and 2011 more than one third of decided appeals were successful (2). The total number of allowed appeals in these eight years was over 150000, while on average over 334000 family visitor’s visas were issued annually during the same period.

According to the Standard Note SN06363 (document attached) “additional evidence is often submitted at appeal stage” and this influences the final decision in favour of the appellants. Withdrawal of the right of appeal would thus encourage more careful preparation of documents at the stage of application and would allegedly save the tax payer the expense of judicial interference.

In practice it should be remembered that dependent parents who no longer qualify for settlement in the UK after restriction of the rule in July 2012 can only come to the UK as visitors and this might be the only way for the families to stay together on a regular basis.

Spouses and children of British citizens who do not meet the requirements for settlement under the new rules can in theory still come to the UK as visitors. At the same time they face the difficult task of persuading the immigration officer that they are genuinely coming to the UK for a period not exceeding six months and intend to leave the country on completion of the visit.

It is not unusual for immigration officers to refuse by default all applications for visitor’s visa following refusal of spouse visa or child’s settlement application.

Where family life is engaged, as between partners or parents and children, the residual right of appeal under the Human Rights Act may come into prominence, especially in light of the lack of other legal remedies.

The controversial proposal of introducing “security bond” for visitors from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nigeria and Ghana (3) may also give rise to racial discrimination arguments for which immigration tribunals would be the appropriate venue.

Family visitors who had their visa applications refused are advised to seek legal advice at their earliest opportunity.

Kadmos Consultants is a London based firm of immigration lawyers with strong interest in the interaction of Human Rights law and immigration law affecting the rights of migrants in the UK. The firm provides legal advice on all UK visa applications and represents appellants in immigration appeals. Kadmos Consultants offer of a free 20 minute consultation with a Facebook Fan token.


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Helena Sheizon
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