Dear Mr Bassie,
I am a Jamaican and I have never travelled outside of Jamaica. My best friend from school days has lived in the United Kingdom for the last 20 years and is planning to get married next year and would like me to be her chief bridesmaid. I applied for a visitor's visa and I was denied. What can I do to appeal this decision? I need your help.
From the time that you have been refused a visa by the entry clearance officer you will be given 28 days to appeal the refusal decision. Although you have not told me of your personal circumstances, you should have been provided with a refusal notice which would explain why the entry clearance officer refused you a visa, as well as details on how to appeal the decision. Included in the correspondence from the British High Commission should also be an appeal form which you should complete and return either to the British High Commission or it should be sent to the relevant authority in the UK, which is called the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal.
If the reason for your refusal is a matter that may be best served by re-presenting the facts to the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal, then upon receipt of the completed appeal form, the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal would then instruct the entry clearance officer (referred to as the 'respondent') to provide full details of why he/she refused your application for a visa. You (who will be referred to as the 'appellant') will then have an opportunity to read all the documents pertaining to why the entry clearance officer refused the visa and this will help you to prepare your case on why you should be granted a visa. It is advisable that you should then obtain legal advice on how to prepare the appeal, as this can be quite a complicated procedure. At this stage, it may be prudent to instruct a lawyer as much of the work will need to be done in the UK.
At the tribunal's hearing, the immigration judge will listen to both the respondent's and the appellant's cases. You will also be permitted to provide additional information at the hearing that may be useful to your case, as well as call any witnesses who can assist. For example, in a marriage-visa appeal, the appellant's sponsor (husband or wife of the appellant) will most likely attend the hearing to provide evidence. At the end of the hearing, the immigration judge will make a decision as to whether the original refusal decision should stand or whether it should be overturned and allow the visa to be granted.
The decision by the immigration judge is usually issued within a few weeks. If the appeal is successful, the British High Commission in Jamaica will be informed and you will then be invited to attend so that your passport can be endorsed with a visa. If the appeal is unsuccessful you may appeal, to a further and higher court, for further reconsideration.
I hope this helps.
John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises in Jamaica. He is a Supreme Court-appointed mediator and a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.