There are various requirements that must be met when applying for leave to enter or leave to remain in the UK, as well as when applying for British citizenship. If these requirements are not met, unless there is some basis upon which any discretion can be exercised by the Home Office in your favour, your visa or citizenship application will be refused. There are also certain circumstances in which your grant of leave or citizenship can be revoked.
In some cases, it may be possible to appeal an application refused by Home Office officials. In others, you may only be able to seek an administrative review of your decision, and only then if there has been a case-working error.
The following practical guide on how to appeal Home Office decisions looks at when an appeal may be available to visa or citizenship applicants, together with the appeals process and timescales potentially involved.
When can you appeal Home Office decisions?
You can only appeal Home Office decisions to the First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) (FtTIAC) in certain cases. These are limited to if the Home Office has:
- refused your human rights claim, for example, when applying on the basis of family life
- refused you a residence document or deported you under the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016
- refused or revoked your immigration status, varied the length or conditions of your stay in the UK, or deported you under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS)
- refused or revoked your travel or family permit under the EUSS, or restricted your rights to either enter or leave the UK under those permits
- refused or revoked your permit, or deported you as a frontier worker
- refused or revoked your leave, or deported you as an S2 healthcare visitor
- revoked your British citizenship.
You will also have a right of appeal to the FtTIAC if the Home Office has refused your protection claim, more commonly known as a humanitarian protection or asylum claim, or if the Home office has decided to revoke your protection status. However, appealing an asylum claim can be extremely complex, where specialist advise should always be sought.
UK immigration appeal process
The UK immigration appeal process will depend on whether you are applying yourself or if you have instructed a legal professional to appeal on your behalf. In most cases, where a solicitor or immigration adviser is representing you, they must appeal online using the MyHMCTS (HM Courts & Tribunals Service) service. It is only in cases where a client is in detention that a representative must apply using a paper form instead.
If you are appealing without the assistance of a solicitor or immigration adviser, the way in which you do this will depend on whether you are applying from within or outside the UK. If you are applying from within the UK, you will have 14 days to appeal from the date the Home Office decision was sent. If you are applying from outside the UK, you will have 28 days to appeal after you get your decision. If you apply after the relevant deadline date, you must explain why, where the tribunal will decide if it will still hear your appeal.
You can apply online, or by post, email or fax, although online appeals are much quicker. In addition to submitting your appeal and documents in support of your application, you can also use the online service to ask for a hearing and to get a decision on your appeal. You will need to create an account using your Home Office reference number, where you can find this on your decision letter. You will also need to have ready any documents that will support your application, plus an email address or mobile number.
The online service link can be found by searching ‘Appeal against a visa or immigration decision’ (Appeal from within the UK or Appeal from outside the UK) at GOV.UK. However, this is a relatively new online service for people appealing an immigration decision. This means, because it is a new service, that not everyone will be able to use it right now, where you will be asked a few questions to establish if the service is suitable for you.
In circumstances where you cannot use the new online service, you may still be able to use the previous online service. If you cannot use either online service, or would prefer to apply by post, email or fax, you can use Form IAFT-5 in most cases when applying from within the UK. If you are appealing a decision where you have been detained in an immigration detention centre and your decision letter was sent by the Home Office, you must apply by post or fax using Form IAFT-DIA. When applying by post, email or fax from overseas, you will need to use one of the following forms (depending on the nature of your appeal):
- use form IAFT-5 to appeal a decision about deporting you under the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016; refusing your permit, revoking your permit or deporting you if you are a frontier worker; or refusing your leave, revoking your leave or deporting you if you are on an S2 Healthcare Visitor visa;
- use form IAFT-6 to appeal a decision refusing a human rights claim for entry clearance; deporting you, refusing or revoking your status, or varying the length or condition of your stay under the EUSS; or refusing or revoking your family or travel permit under the EUSS
- use form IAFT-7 to appeal a decision to refuse a human rights or protection claim, where you have been told you can only appeal after you have left the country.
How are UK immigration appeal hearings conducted?
When it comes to how your appeal is conducted, you can ask during the application process for a decision to be made just on the information in your appeal form and documents, or at a hearing that you and any legal representative acting on your behalf can attend. Even if you do not specifically request a hearing, the tribunal can still decide to hold one, where you will be told if this is the case and invited to attend. There may also need to be an attended pre-hearing, where the tribunal will check if you are ready for a full hearing.
Hearings are conducted in public, although you can ask for these to be held in private, or to attend via video link or phone if there is a good reason for this, for example, where a public hearing would put you in danger. If you or your legal representative are outside the UK and would like to give live video or audio evidence, you must contact the tribunal in advance.
Once the appeal has been heard by the FtTIAC, you will be given a decision in person or by post, where you will usually get a copy of the tribunal’s decision within a period of 4 weeks of the hearing. If your appeal is allowed, this does not automatically mean you will be able to enter or stay in the UK, although the Home Office must reconsider its decision. It may even reconsider the entire application if your circumstances have changed since appealing.
If the tribunal dismisses your appeal, you can appeal again, but would first need to request permission to appeal to the Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) (UTIAC). An appeal of the FtTIAC’s decision will only be allowed to proceed to the UTIAC if the tribunal got the law wrong, did not apply the correct law, failed to follow the correct procedures which affected its decision or had no evidence to support its decision. The law can be complex when it comes to appeals, where seeking expert advise is strongly advised.
How long does it take to appeal Home Office decisions?
It can take several months for an appeal of a Home Office refusal decision to be heard by the FtTIAC, although submitting your appeal online, rather than by post, email or fax, is typically much quicker. You may also be able to ask for your decision to be expedited.
If your appeal is urgent, you will need to write to the tribunal explaining the reason why your case should be heard urgently, including evidence of compelling or compassionate grounds, such as letters from a doctor or hospital. On receipt, a judge will review your evidence and decide whether your appeal should be heard sooner than usual. However, your application will only be reviewed if you have paid any applicable tribunal fee.
How much does it cost to appeal a Home Office decision?
The cost to appeal a visa or immigration decision is £80 fee without a hearing or £140 with a hearing, although some appeals are exempt from paying a fee. Alternatively, you may be eligible for help to reduce the fee. However, if you do not have to pay the fee, or can get help to reduce it, you cannot use the new online service to submit your appeal.
You should refer to the Home Office notice of decision you received when your application was refused to see if your appeal is exempt. You should also refer to the Immigration and Appeals Tribunal fees guidance at GOV.UK to see if you are eligible for help with fees. This could be where you have little or no savings, are on certain benefits or have a low income.
In circumstances where you are required to pay the tribunal fee and your appeal is upheld, the judge may order the Home Office to cover the cost of this under a ‘fee award’.
What happens if you do not have a right of appeal?
You can only appeal to the tribunal if you have the legal right to do so, where you will usually be told if an appeal is available to you in your decision letter. However, there are only limited circumstances where a Home Office decision can be appealed to the tribunal.
If you do not have the right to appeal, or even where you do have the right but would prefer to explore alternative routes, there may be other options available to you. For example, if your frontier worker permit or S2 healthcare visitor visa application is unsuccessful, you can apply again for free if you have new evidence to submit. Submitting a fresh application is likely to be far easier and quicker than pursuing an appeal, where the issues that resulted in a refusal decision can be addressed with any new evidence.
In those cases where no right of appeal exists, or where submitting a fresh application is not a viable option, you might be able to ask the Home Office for an administrative review of a refusal of an application. However, this will only be possible for eligible decisions where it is alleged that a case-working error has occurred. Again, your decision letter from the Home Office will usually tell you if you can apply for an administrative review.
In most cases, you can apply for an administrative review online at a cost of £80. This application is free if you did not pay a fee on your original application, unless the original application was under the EUSS, the Frontier Worker Permit Scheme, as an S2 Healthcare Visitor or as a Service Provider from Switzerland. If you want to apply for an administrative review, you must do so within 14 days of getting the decision when applying from inside the UK (or 7 days if you were detained on the day you got your decision), or within 28 days when applying from outside the UK. In either case, it can take up to 6 months or more to receive the result, although you will not usually be removed from the UK until your administrative review has been completed, even if your grant of leave has expired.
You can only apply for a Home Office decision to be reviewed once. However, if you get a new decision after your review, you may be able to apply for a review of the new decision. You may also be able to apply for a review if the decision is the same but based on new reasons. Additionally, if your administrative review is unsuccessful for an EUSS, frontier worker or S2 healthcare visitor application, you may still have a right of appeal. Your administrative review decision should tell you how to appeal in these circumstances.
DavidsonMorris are UK immigration specialists. For expert advice on a Home Office application, contact us.
How to appeal a Home Office decision FAQs
Can you appeal a Home Office decision?
Not all UK immigration routes offer a right to appeal the Home Office's decision. You should be told if you can appeal in your Home Office decision letter.
How do I appeal a Home Office visa decision?
You can instruct a legal representative to appeal a visa decision for you. You can also appeal yourself (either online or by post, email or fax), although different forms may be needed when applying from inside or outside the UK.
How long does it take to appeal a Home Office decision?
It can take several months for an appeal of a Home Office refusal decision to be heard by the First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber), although submitting your appeal online, rather than by post, email or fax, can be quicker.
What are the chances of winning immigration appeal in UK?
The prospects of winning an immigration appeal will depend on the basis upon which the Home Office has refused your visa or application for citizenship. It is always best to seek advice from an immigration specialist as soon as possible.
Last updated: 18 October 2024