Foreign nationals who have been refused a visa for a short visit to see family members in the UK will need to re-apply for a visa rather than launch a lengthy and costly appeal.
The UK’s Immigration Minister Damien Green announced that in future the vast majority of applicants would lose the full right to appeal a decision to refuse their family visitor visa in the courts, according to a new bill that was published today. Refused applicants will, however, still be able to appeal on limited grounds of human rights or race discrimination, a Press Release states.
Mr Green said:
“We are not stopping anybody visiting family in the UK; if an applicant meets the rules they will be granted a visa.
“However, it is grossly unfair that UK taxpayers have had to foot the huge bill for foreign nationals who, in many cases, have simply failed to provide the correct evidence to support their application.
“These changes will save tens of millions of pounds and free up immigration tribunals to carry out the much more important work they were intended for.”
The change is included in the Crime and Courts Bill, which was published today. Subject to Parliamentary approval and Royal Assent, it is expected to come into force by 2014.
Until this time, interim measures will ensure that the full right of appeal will be limited to those who apply for visas to visit a close family member. In addition, the person being visited in the UK will also have to have settled, refugee or humanitarian protection status.
Secondary legislation is expected to be laid before Parliament next month which, subject to Parliamentary approval, will mean that from July 2012 those applying to visit a cousin, uncle, aunt, niece or nephew will no longer have a full right of appeal.
These changes only affect applicants who have been refused a visa to visit family in the UK. No changes are being made to the rules governing who can qualify to enter the UK. Genuine visitors continue to be welcome.
The government is removing the full appeal right because:
The number of appeals has increased greatly since 2000, when full appeal rights were re-introduced for family visitor visas. It was expected that there would be a maximum of 20,000 appeals per year but by 2010-11, the number had risen to almost 50,000.
The cost of processing these appeals is estimated to be £29 million each year. They now account for almost 40 per cent of all immigration appeals, burdening the system and diverting resources which could otherwise be used for higher priority cases.
Expenditure on family visitor visa appeals is disproportionate to the benefit sought, especially since individuals are able to re-apply for a visa.
No other category of visitor visa (such as business and tourist) attracts the same full right of appeal. In many cases new evidence is provided at the appeal which should have been submitted with the original application. Applicants wishing to provide additional information should re-apply for a visa, not use the tribunal to make a second application.
A decision on a fresh visa application will be received much more quickly than an appeal, typically within 15 days, in comparison with an appeal which can take up to 8 months.