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Appealing a visa decision

Published:Tuesday | April 3, 2012 | 12:00 AM
John S. Bassie

Dear Mr Bassie,

I recently made an application for a visa to visit the United Kingdom and I was denied entry. I have noticed that I can make an appeal. Could you please give me some insight on what to expect if I decide to appeal the decision?

- E.L.

Dear E.L.,

As you are aware, it is possible to be given permission to appeal against an immigration decision made outside the United Kingdom or at the United Kingdom border.

If the United Kingdom Border Agency refuses an application for a visa, then you will be sent a letter that will inform you of the decision. This is called a 'notice of decision' and this notice will also state the applicant's appeal rights.

It should be noted that applicants for some types of visa do have full rights of appeal if their application is refused. The most common types of visa applicant with full rights of appeal are those who are family visitors, who want to visit qualifying family members in the United Kingdom; and 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.

If the applicant has the right of appeal, then the United Kingdom Border Agency will send him or her the IAFT-2 appeal form with the notice of decision, along with an information document explaining how to complete the appeal form. Usually, the applicant is required to pay a fee when making an appeal.

When making an appeal, the applicant must ensure that the form IAFT-2 is fully completed and sent in along with the notice of decision to the given address or fax number, or submitted on the online appeal form on the Ministry of Justice website in the United Kingdom. The form must be completed in English and the applicant should explain why they believe that the authorities were wrong to refuse the application. It should be noted that the applicant should try to complete the form as thoroughly as possible to ensure that his or her position is clearly understood, and the applicant must provide a current contact address. If the appeal is made using form IAFT-2, then the applicant or representative must sign the form or it will be returned to the sender.

If the applicant has documents that will be sent in support of the grounds for appeal, then these should be sent with the form. These documents must be in English or accompanied by a certified translation and be put on letter-size paper. It is requested that staples not be used, but paper clips are acceptable. It is important to note that the form be received by the authorities no later than 28 days after the date when you have received the notice of decision.

Your appeal will be submitted to the First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) (FTTIAC) and accepted when it receives the applicant's payment. The address is:

First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber)

PO Box 6987

Leicester

United Kingdom

LE1 6ZX

Fax: (+44) (0)116 249 4214

The FTTIAC will then notify the visa office that had refused the applicant's application, by sending them a notice of receipt. After this, an entry clearance manager (ECM) at the visa office will review the United Kingdom Border Agency's decision that refused the application, taking into consideration the appeal form and any supporting documents that the applicant may have sent. If the ECM is satisfied that the application meets immigration rules, they may overturn the authorities' original decision and issue the applicant a visa or entry clearance.

Letter of explanation

However, if the ECM does not overturn the decision, an entry clearance officer (ECO) will then write a statement explaining why the ECM has upheld the decision to refuse your application, and the authorities will send this and all of the papers, known as 'the appeal bundle', to the FTTIAC. The authorities will prepare and send the applicant's appeal bundle within 20 working days for non-settlement and family visitor cases; or 90 working days for settlement cases. It should be noted that these times exclude postage times to and from the visa office.

If a hearing is scheduled, the FTTIAC will list the applicant's appeal for hearing and they will send copies of all the relevant papers, including the ECO's written statement, and supporting documents to the United Kingdom Border Agency and to your representative or sponsor; and they will advise the applicant or the representative of the date and time of the scheduled hearing. The authorities have no control over when the applicant's appeal will be heard.

When the matter is heard, an immigration judge will hear the applicant's appeal in the United Kingdom. When considering the appeal, the judge will look at all the evidence provided by your representative and by the ECO. He or she will determine the applicant's appeal on the individual details of your case in line with immigration rules. To find out about the progress of an appeal, or for more information about the appeals system, the FTTIAC can be contacted at:

First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber)

PO Box 7866

Loughborough

United Kingdom

LE11 2XZ

Phone: (+44) (0)845 600 0877

Fax: (+44) (0)1509 221403

Email: customer.service@tribunals.gsi.gov.uk

The judge will inform the FTTIAC of his or her decision no more than 10 days after the hearing, and will then send that decision (known as a 'determination') to everyone who is involved. If the judge allows the applicant's appeal, his or her determination will be sent to the relevant visa section, which will in turn contact the applicant. It should be noted that 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 write to the applicant using the contact details provided on the appeal form. The applicant should not contact the visa section until 12 weeks after the date when the applicant or his or her representative received the judge's decision, which will be stated on your written determination.

The applicant should not contact the FTTIAC or the immigration enquiry bureau about his or her appeal after the allowed determination has been received; if allowed, the visa section will issue the visa.

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 and a chartered arbitrator. Email: lawbassie@yahoo.com.