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NEW RIGHT OF APPEAL FOR FAMILY VISITOR VISAS

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People overseas will be able to appeal against the refusal of a visa ...
People overseas will be able to appeal against the refusal of a visa

to visit their family in the UK following Regulations laid last week.

The new right of appeal created by the Immigration and Asylum Act

1999 will be available from 2 October 2000.

As these visits often relate to important family events such as

weddings or funerals, appeals will be fast tracked to try to avoid

the purpose of the visit being missed. To provide this priority

service, the Immigration Appellate Authority (IAA), the independent

tribunal which will hear these appeals, has recruited 32 more

part-time adjudicators and extra staff to provide a streamlined

process for the expected 19,500 appeals per year.

There will be a choice between an appeal which can be decided on

paper by an adjudicator and an appeal involving a full oral hearing

which is only expected to be needed in a minority of cases involving

witnesses. The fee will be payable when the appeal is lodged with the

visa section at the British mission where the visa application was

refused. It will be paid by the appellant and refunded if the appeal

is successful.

The fees, like other court fees, are intended to cover the full cost

of providing this service. This means that the cost of a paper-based

appeal will be£150 and the cost of a full oral hearing will be£500.

Notes

1. A visit visa is valid for six months and is necessary for a person

who applies for entry clearance to enter the UK as a visitor. The new

appeal right applies to people visiting close family members

including first cousins and step relatives and unmarried partners.

2. The estimated 19,500 appeals is based on the expectation that half

of those refused visas to visit their family will wish to appeal when

the new right is introduced.

3. The new right of appeal is in addition, not an alternative, to the

current practice whereby all visit visa refusals are reviewed by the

entry clearance manager. Additionally, applicants or sponsors can

still request that a visa refusal be re-examined through the joint

entry clearance unit or via their local MP.

4. The fee for the appeal covers all the costs to the IAA. The

additional cost to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in handling

appeals and reviewing decisions will be covered by the initial visa

application fee.

5. The government originally proposed fees of£280 and£580.

Following consultation, it has decided to set the fees on the basis

of the lowest estimate of the cost, rather than the previous

mid-range figures. There is always some difficulty in predicting the

exact cost of a new service, and the government has decided that

appellants should not have to take the risk that the costings were

too high. The revised fees also exclude the cost of further appeals

against an adjudicator's decision which will only arise in a minority

of cases. The government intends to review the fees after a year in

the light of the actual costs.

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