The UK government has today confirmed that new regulations to restrict appeals against refusals of family visit visas have been officially ‘laid in Parliament’.
Immigration Appeals (Family Visitor) Regulations set out who qualifies for a full right of appeal against refusal of a visa to visit family in the UK.
The new rules will come into effect from 9 July 2012.
The changes do not affect the rules governing who can qualify for entry on a UK visitor and the millions of visitors are welcome.
However, the regulations will change the appeal rights of family visit visa applicants, which means people applying to visit their uncle, aunt, nephew niece or first cousin, or a relative who does not have settled, refugee or humanitarian protection status in the UK. Visits to the above categories will no longer have a full right of appeal if refused by the Entry Clearance Officer. But a ‘limited right of appeal’ will apply for this group on ‘human rights’ and ‘race discrimination’ grounds.
As previously announced on 11 May 2012, the Crime and Courts Bill will, subject to Parliamentary approval, remove the full right of appeal against all family visit visa refusals. It is expected to come into force by 2014.
Last week the Home Office announced a major immigration clampdown on family migration. From 9 July 2012, if you want to marry a foreigner (non-EEA European Economic Area nationality) and live in the UK together you must earn £18,600.
Cynthia Barker, of Immigration Advisers Bison Management, has dealt with thousands of dependant visa applications and appeals and feels the new rules will mostly exclude first generation migrant workers who usually earn lower wages than similarly qualified native workers.
‘The rules will particularly hit Senior Carers and some Nurses earning low salaries who want their partners and children to join them in the UK.
‘Traditionally, one family member will emigrate to the UK on a work permit and get established with a secure job and housing before applying for their dependants to join them.
‘But after years of working and paying taxes without ever claiming benefits they could find that they can no longer sponsor dependants because of this new rule.’
Cynthia’s advice to those who wish to sponsor their dependants is to ‘act sooner rather than later’.
Family visits have always been a contentious issue with Entry Clearance Officers (ECO’s). On the one hand having a family member in the UK is an advantage, since the visitor has somewhere to stay and financial support. But on the other hand, an ECO often assumes that if a person has family in the UK, and few ties in their native country they have nothing to come back to.
For instance, if the applicant is a young male aged 25 from India or the Philippines, with his parents in the UK and no job back home, his visa application has a high chance of refusal. Especially as he has no ties, no job and is too old to apply as a dependant.
However, parents of over aged lone dependants could consider applying for a dependant visa on an ‘outside the rules’ basis in certain circumstances and should seek professional advice.
If you need any immigration advice or are worried about the new immigration rules or need help with Sponsorship or Tier 2, Tier 4, applying for university if your college has closed down, Visa, ILR/Settlement, Citizenship, Dependant Visa or an Appeal against a refusal, or if you have been waiting for a reply from the Home Office for longer than a year, please email: