LIFE BITE: Increase in Immigration Appeal Tribunal fees

apple-150579_1280As of 10th October 2016, it now costs £800.00 to lodge an appeal to the First Tier Tribunal against an immigration decision if an oral hearing is requested. Previously the fee was £140.00.  That reflects an increase of over 500%.

The new fees will apply where the decision that is the subject of appeal is taken on or after 10th October 2016.

This change in the law was brought about by The First Tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) Fees (Amendment) Order 2016.  It will increase the already significant financial burden on people to secure their residence rights in the UK.

The Home Office makes decisions on a variety of applications relating to foreign and European nationals who wish to come to or remain in the UK either permanently or for a defined period of time.  The Home Office also deals with applications made for asylum in the UK.  If a person’s application to come to or remain in the UK is refused, they have the right to appeal to the First Tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) within a strict time limit.

An individual has the right to appeal  number of decisions, including the following:-

  • An asylum or humanitarian protection claim
  • A human rights claim,
  • A refusal to issue a residence card under the European Economic Area (EEA) Regulations,
  • A decision to deport
  • A decision to revoke protection status or a decision to revoke British citizenship

Now that there has been a significant increase in the appeal fee, many people with genuine grounds of appeal may be deterred from doing so simply because they cannot afford the fee.

An individual will have to pay the appeal fee upfront.  Waiting times for hearing dates before the First Tier Tribunal are currently in excess of 12 months.  If the appeal is successful, then an individual can recoup the fee however, they will be waiting some time to recover the cost and will only recover it on the basis that their appeal is successful.

There are exceptions to paying the appeal fee and individuals considering appealing should seek legal advice quickly.

If you require further information on Immigration Law in the UK and the appeal process, please contact us here or email mgavin@fhanna.co.uk or call 02890243901

Migrants or Refugees? Is There A Difference?

migrantsOver the past few weeks, the media has brought us the most harrowing reports of thousands of people fleeing war-torn Syria to Greece, risking their lives and those of their families in the process.
Only a few days ago, 12 people died after two boats capsized attempted to reach the Greek island of Kos – five of the victims were young children.  Sadly, these 12 were not the first nor are they likely to be the last casualties of this international crisis.  
According to the UN Refugee Agency, approximately 2,500 people are said to have died this summer in attempting to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.

It has been noted that many different terms have been used in the media to define those people fleeing their homes in search of safety.   Many reports have referred to such people as ‘migrants’, others have called them ‘refugees’ or ‘asylum seekers’.

But is there a difference between a migrant, refugee or asylum seeker and if so, what is it?

Let’s look at each term individually:-

Who is a Refugee?

Put simply, a refugee is someone who has had to flee their home country out of fear or absolute necessity.  This could be because their country is in a state of war or political instability and it is not safe for them to live there.  It could also be because it is not safe for them to stay in their country due to their religion, beliefs, class, political opinion or even sexual orientation.

Refugees may be forced to flee their country with little or no warning, leaving their homes, belongings and even families and friends.   They have no protection given to them by their own country which makes them some of the most vulnerable people in society.

Once a person has been granted refugee status, they are protected by international law. The country  in which they were granted refugee status will offer them protection.  One of the most basic principles laid down in international law is that refugees should not be returned to situations where their life and freedom would be under threat.  They are given safe ‘refuge’ to live a peaceful and happy life in a new country.

Who is an Asylum Seeker?

A person who claims to be a refugee is not automatically considered to be one.   They must first have their claim evaluated by the government of the country they have fled to.

While the government are deciding on whether to grant a person refugee status, the person will be considered to be an ‘asylum seeker’ – i.e. someone who seeks safe refuge in the country but whose claim has not yet been fully decided upon yet.

Countries have specific responsibilities towards anyone seeking asylum on their territories or at their borders.  While their claim is being considered, asylum seekers will be able to remain in the country they have fled to without the risk of being sent back home.

Who is a Migrant?

A migrant is considered to be a person who chooses voluntarily to move to another country.   There can be many reasons why people move or ‘migrate’ from one country to another – perhaps for improved job prospects, better educational opportunities or maybe just simply to provide a better quality of life for their family.

Migrants decide when to leave their country, make plans of where to live, pack belongings and say goodbye to friends.   They have the opportunity to return to their home country if they wish to in the future.

Does the name really matter?

Whether a person is a migrant, an asylum seeker or a refugee depends very much on their particular circumstances.    In a nutshell however, the terms are not interchangeable.    The UN Refugee Agency states as follows:-

“We say ‘refugees’ when we mean people fleeing war or persecution across an international border.   And we say ‘migrants’ when we mean people moving for reasons not included in the legal definition of a refugee.   We hope that others will give thought to doing the same.   Choices about words do matter.”

If you would like any further information on any area of immigration law, please feel free to contact us at Life Law NI below or email Karen at kconnolly@fhanna.co.uk