Dear Mr Bassie, I was recently refused a visa and I am told that I have the right to appeal. Could you advise me on the process, please?
When the United Kingdom authorities refused your application, they would have sent you a letter informing you of their decision. This is called a 'notice of decision', and the notice of decision would also state your appeal rights.
It should be noted that applicants for some types of visa have full rights of appeal if their application is refused. The most common types of visa applicant with full rights of appeal are partners, children, and other dependent relatives of British citizens or settled persons, who are seeking to go to the United Kingdom with a view to settlement; and family visitors who want to visit qualifying family members in the United Kingdom.
If you have the right of appeal, the authorities will send an IAFT-2 appeal form with the notice of decision. Also included there should be an information document explaining how to complete the appeal form. Usually, a person must pay a fee when he or she makes an appeal application.
If someone wants to appeal and he/she has the right to appeal, that person must complete form IAFT-2 and send it with the notice of decision to the address given, or complete and submit an online appeal form on the United Kingdom's Ministry of Justice website, and it must be completed in English.
When the appellant completes his or her application, he/she should explain why he/she thinks that the authorities were wrong to refuse the application. It is in the appellant's interest to complete the form as thoroughly as possible.
The appellant must provide a current contact address. If he/she appeals using form IAFT-2, then the appellant or his/her representative must sign the form, or it will be returned to the appellant.
Also, if the appellant has documents that support the grounds for appeal, these should be sent with the form. These documents must be in English or accompanied by a certified translation. The authorities ask that only standard letter-sized paper be used for supporting documents, and that staples are not used; however, paperclips are acceptable. Please be aware, the form must be received no later than 28 calendar days after the date when you received your notice of decision.
An appellant's appeal will be accepted when the First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) (FTTIAC) receives the payment. The FTTIAC will then notify the visa office which refused the application by sending them a notice of receipt.
An entry clearance manager (ECM) at the visa office will review the authorities' decision to refuse the application in light of the appeal form and any supporting documents that may have been sent. If the ECM is satisfied that the application meets the Immigration Rules, they may overturn the original decision and issue the appellant with a visa or entry clearance.
If the ECM does not overturn the decision, an entry clearance officer (ECO) will write a statement explaining why the ECM has upheld the decision to refuse your application. The ECO will send this and all papers received, this is known as 'the appeal bundle', to the FTTIAC. The FTTIAC will prepare and send the appeal bundle within 20 working days for non-settlement and family visitor cases, or 90 working days for settlement cases; however, the authorities state that these timings exclude postage times to and from the visa office.
The FTTIAC will then list the appeal for hearing; send out copies of all the relevant papers, including the ECO's written statement, and supporting documents to the authorities and to the appellant's representative or sponsor; and advise the appellant of the date and time of his/her hearing. The authorities have no control over when an appeal will be heard.
An immigration judge will hear the appeal in the United Kingdom. When considering an appeal, the judge will look at all the evidence provided by the representative and by the ECO. He or she will determine the appeal on the individual details of the case in line with the Immigration Rules.
The judge will inform the FTTIAC of his or her decision no more than 10 days after the hearing, and the FTTIAC will then send that decision (known as a 'determination') to everyone involved.
If the appeal is successful, that is if the judge allows the appeal, his or her determination will be sent to the relevant visa section, which will, in turn, contact the appellant. Please be aware it can take up to four weeks for determinations to reach the relevant visa section, and a further eight weeks for them to be processed. The visa section will then write to that person using the contact details provided on the appeal form. The visa section should not be contacted until 12 weeks after the date when the appellant or his or her representative received the judge's decision. This date will be stated on that person's written determination. Also, the FTTIAC or the immigration enquiry bureau should not be contacted about the appeal after he or she has received the allowed determination as they will not be able to issue a visa or deal with any enquiry.
A person should also note that if he or she has paid a fee for the appeal and is successful, the Tribunal may make a fee award against the United Kingdom Border Agency up to the amount of the application fee that was paid - either £80 for a determination on the papers or £140 for an oral hearing.
Fee-award payments are credited to the bank account or credit card that the payment was made from. If that account is no longer in use, the authorities will make contact for alternative bank account details; however, that person will need to give the authorities this information as soon possible to avoid a delay in payment.
If the fee award has not been received after 60 days, then contact the Home Office and quote the Home Office and appeal reference number and the date the fee award was made.
John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a justice of the peace, 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 (UK). Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.