Dear Mr Bassie, I was recently denied entry to the United Kingdom to visit a family member and was informed that I could appeal the decision if I so desired. I am thinking about doing this, but have been told the British authorities are thinking of removing the right of appeal for family visitors. Perhaps you could shed some light on this for me.
I have noted you are considering appealing the decision of the British authorities. Please remember that your appeal must be made within 28 days of the decision.
Now, with respect to your question, there has been an announcement there has been some movement towards removing full right of appeal for family visitors.
This announcement stems in part from a consultation held by the British Home Office between July and October 2011, on whether applicants who were refused a family visit visa should have a full right of appeal. The results were that 39 per cent of respondents felt that a full right of appeal should not be retained for this category, and 28 per cent felt that it should and the remaining 33 per cent did not comment.
In essence, what this would mean is that refused applicants, although there will be a removal of full right of appeal for family visitors, would still be able to appeal, based on limited grounds of human rights or race discrimination.
This change will take effect as there presently is a clause in the Crime and Courts Bill, that has been published recently, which will remove the full right of appeal for those applying to enter the United Kingdom as a family visitor. This change is expected to come into force by 2014, subject to parliamentary approval and Royal Assent.
You should also be aware that in June 2012 the British government will also be introducing secondary legislation which will have the specific effect of tightening the family and sponsor definitions in family visit visa appeals and subject to parliamentary approval, it is anticipated that these changes are expected to come into force in July 2012. Hence, the applicant who is applying to visit say a cousin, uncle, aunt, niece or nephew will no longer have access to a full right of appeal. In addition, for a person to use that appeal right, the family member being visited in the United Kingdom must already have settled, refugee or humanitarian-protection status.
It should be noted that these changes will only affect those applicants who have been refused a visa to visit, family members. However, there will not be any changes made to the rules governing those who can qualify for entry to the United Kingdom as a visitor. The authorities wish to convey that genuine visitors are welcome. In addition, the authorities have stated that the independent chief inspector will continue to monitor visa refusals where applicants have no full right of appeal. The United Kingdom Border Agency will use any feedback from the chief inspector to improve their application and decision-making processes.
As an aside, as well as removing the full right of appeal for family visit visas, the Crime and Courts Bills, previously mentioned, also includes provisions that relate to the United Kingdom Border Agency investigatory and other powers.
All the best.
John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a Supreme Court-appointed mediator, a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a chartered arbitrator and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (U.K.). Email: firstname.lastname@example.org