Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Visa appeals to be scrapped for family visitors to UK

Foreign nationals will not be allowed to appeal if their visa application to visit family members is rejected, the Home Office has announced.

A new law – which will come into force in 2014 – will remove the right of appeal for those visiting cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces or nephews.

Applicants will instead be expected to re-apply for a visa at a cost starting at £78.

According to the Home Office, the number of appeals from those wanting to visit family living in the UK has risen to almost 50,000 a year, with failed applicants accounting for nearly 40% of all immigration appeals.

This, the department says, is "burdening the system and diverting resources which could otherwise be used to settle asylum claims and foreign criminals' deportation cases".

Ninety-five per cent of decisions on fresh applications are taken within 15 days, whereas the appeals process can last up to eight months.

Immigration Minister Damian Green told the BBC: "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."
Labour's Commons Home Affairs Commitee chairman Keith Vaz has criticised the change, arguing it will stop relatives coming to the UK to attend family occasions.

"It is a system that works and it gives people the opportunity of challeging decisions," he said.
But Mr Green told MPs the current system of appeals was "an absolute goldmine for immigration lawyers".

The new legislation still requires parliamentary approval but an interim measure will reportedly be put in place beginning this July.

-    UKAsian Staff

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