If you receive a rejection from the Home Office to your UK immigration application, you may be given the right to appeal the decision to the First-Tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber). Not all applications carry the right to appeal. Some applications will give applicants the right to request a reconsideration via administrative review. In this blog, we will focus on decisions that give applicants a right of appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal and how to successfully challenge the decision made by the Home Office.

Should I appeal the decision made by the Home Office?

It is extremely important that the decision made by the Home Office is carefully examined to determine whether it is worth bringing an appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal. In some cases, the Home Office’s decision to refuse your application is reached correctly and the Home Office’s caseworker properly applied the relevant Immigration Rules and followed the policy guidance. In this scenario and where there are no merits to challenging the decision to refuse your application, we would consider alternative options such as submitting a fresh application.

However, if there was an error in law or failure by the Home Office to properly consider the submitted supporting documents, there may be merit in appealing to the First-Tier Tribunal.

When do I need to submit my Home Office decision appeal application?

If you are outside the UK, you will normally have 28 days to appeal after you have received the decision notice from the Home Office. If you are inside the UK, you will have 14 days to appeal from the date you receive your decision notice.

What happens if I miss the deadline to submit my appeal after a Home Office refusal?

If you miss the deadline, you may still be able to make an out-of-time appeal application. However, you will need to provide good reasons for failure to submit an in-time application by explaining the reasons for the delay and providing evidence of the same.

How do I lodge an appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal?

Appeal applications are normally submitted online using MyHMCTS service. We recommend instructing an experienced solicitor to assist you with your application because the process can be complex and entails several stages.

What happens after I lodge my appeal application?

The Home Office will be directed to prepare their bundle of evidence for refusing your application which usually includes a copy of your immigration application, their decision letter and the supporting evidence you had provided at the application stage. You will then be required to prepare all the evidence you wish to rely on for challenging the refusal and an Appeal Skeleton Argument (ASA).

The tribunal will set guidelines and deadlines that each party to the appeal needs to follow during the appeal process. It is important to comply with the tribunal’s directions to avoid delay or sanctions for non-compliance.

Sanctions that a party can face if they do not comply with a direction on time could include being barred from relying on evidence in the appeal.

Can I submit new evidence as part of my appeal?

It is possible to submit additional evidence when you are preparing your case. It is crucial that all the necessary evidence is submitted at this stage because there could be cost implications if you were to submit additional evidence following the review stage.

Can the Home Office withdraw its decision after receiving the appeal evidence?

The review stage allows the Home Office to review and reconsider your application in light of the additional supporting evidence uploaded as part of your appeal bundle and decide whether it was wrong to refuse your application. The Home Office could decide to withdraw its decision at this stage. However, often, we find that even when the evidence strongly points out a casework error, the Home Office will maintain its decision and the case will proceed to a hearing.

It is therefore important that the appeal bundle is carefully prepared, structured and all the relevant arguments are clearly advanced.

What happens during the hearing?

An independent judge will review your appeal bundle which will include both your evidence and the Home Office’s evidence. The judge will listen to the arguments forwarded by the Home Office’s ‘presenting officer’, who will argue the case for the Home Office, and your legal representative. Witnesses (if any) will be called to give evidence.

The submissions made by your legal representative will be based on the ASA and the evidence submitted when preparing your appeal bundle. This highlights the importance of ensuring that your appeal bundle is carefully prepared, and all the key issues are properly addressed with counterarguments provided. You could be prevented from relying on evidence or information that was not included in your appeal bundle or supplementary bundle (if applicable).

If you require advice and assistance with lodging an appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal, you can contact our experienced solicitors.

Saracens Solicitors’ immigration team has been advising businesses on all aspects of UK immigration law for over 18 years. We work directly with businesses in the UK and overseas to provide tailored and strategic advice that ensures that the immigration requirements are met. We have established a market-leading reputation for delivering exceptional client services.