Dear Mr Bassie,
I was told that there has been a removal of the full right of appeal for persons applying to enter the United Kingdom as a family visitor. Is this true, and if so, could you provide some more information?
The full right of appeal for persons applying to enter the United Kingdom as a family visitor has been removed.
The British authorities are aiming to bring the appeal rights for family members in line with those appeal rights for all the other visitor categories. These changes took effect from June 25, 2013; this was after the commencement of section 52 of the Crime and Courts Act. As a result of the enactment of this section, the new appeal arrangements have come into force after that date and will apply to anyone who makes an application to visit the United Kingdom as a family member after that date. It should be noted that as a result of the removal of the appeal process as it existed, the only appeal that can be made would have to be on the basis of human rights or race discrimination grounds. As a consequence, this will be in line with other visitor categories.
The British authorities have stated that they would like to make the correct decision on these types of applications on the first occasion that they are made. Therefore, the family member now needs to provide all the relevant information and evidence with the application, the first time around.
The British authorities, through the Entry Clearance Officer (ECO), would like to be in a position to make an informed decision based on the accompanying evidence with the application. The ECO is looking for several things and are a few of these are as follows:
The ECO will need to see what the applicant's sponsor's immigration status is in the United Kingdom; whether he or she is paying for all or part of his or her family member's trip and if so, evidence of the ability to do so. This evidence should at least include, but not be limited to, details of his or her employment, income, savings and assets. The sponsor should also include a letter of sponsorship explaining his or her relationship to the person who is making the application; whether the sponsor has previously supported an application for someone to come to the United Kingdom and whether that visitor complied with the terms of the visa that was issued by the British authorities.
Purpose and length of visit
The sponsor will also need to state the purpose and length of the visit; and where the sponsor's family member will stay and the type of accommodation that will be provided. For example, will the visitor be housed in the sponsor's home or a hotel.
If the sponsor has stated that he or she will be providing financial support and/or is paying the visitor's expenses, he or she should provide documents as evidence in an effort to satisfy the ECO that the applicant meets the immigration rules. These are copies of bank or building society statements, and payslips for the last six months; or a copy of the sponsor's savings account book. A comprehensive guide on the documents an applicant should consider submitting is available on the United Kingdom Border Agency's website at www. ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk.
It should be noted that if a family visitor's application is refused, the applicant can make a fresh one and a fresh application will be considered on its own merit. Furthermore, any previous refusals will only be a critical factor if that application was refused under the general grounds for refusal. For example, this would include previously attempting to use deception in an entry-clearance application, for instance submitting forged or counterfeit documents.
The British authorities have stated that it remains committed to its well-established principles of granting family visit visas where applicants demonstrate that they meet the requirements of the immigration rules. The authorities currently grant almost 80 per cent of applications at the initial consideration stage. However, the authorities are hoping to encourage applicants to get their applications right first time, and hopefully, not use the appeal system to avoid submitting evidence that he or she could and should, have submitted with the initial application. The British authorities have stated that their research has shown that the majority of allowed appeals are allowed on the basis of new information not provided with the original application.
The British authorities believe that the service will be much improved and faster and provide a prompt decision, if the applicant simply resubmits a fresh application with all the relevant information, rather than go through a potentially lengthy and costly appeal process.
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.