Learn how to appeal UK visa refusal in this complete visa appeal guide.
If your UK visa application has been refused by the Home Office or UKVI, it may be possible to challenge the refusal. You may have been given a right of administrative review, a full right of appeal or no right of appeal at all.
Whether you will receive a right of appeal or another legal recourse, such as administrative review, depends on what application has been submitted. In most situations it will be as follows:
- All Points Based System (“PBS”) applications and those for family members of PBS migrants, i.e. Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 4 and Tier 5, attract right of Administrative Review only.
- Human Rights and Protection claims and applications under EEA Regulations attract a full right of appeal. Some in-country rights of appeal can be “certified”, i.e. appeal can only be lodged once the applicant leaves the UK.
- No right of appeal – usually visitor visa applications (with few very limited exceptions), short-term student visa applications etc.
The current refusal rate for UK visa applications hovers around 15% mark, with some categories experiencing an even higher rate of refusals. The most notable example is a now-closed Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) route, where the refusal rate was around an astonishing 50%.
A refused visa is not the end of the world, though very often it may feel like it. The good news is that more than half of immigration decision get overturned on appeal and as was recently reported by The Guardian, Home Office loses 75% of its immigration appeals.
Appealing UK visa refusals
Those applications that were refused with a full right of appeal can be challenged by lodging an appeal to the immigration tribunal, most often this will be a spouse visa refusal, refusal of ILR application or refusal of a Residence Card or a Permanent Residence.
For the application that was refused inside the UK, i.e. an extension, switching or ILR, you will normally have 14 calendar days to lodge the appeal. For applicants who are outside the UK, the time period is 28 days.
When the application was refused, you should have received reasons for refusal letter from the Home Office or UKVI outlining why the application was unsuccessful and advising you of the right of appeal and relevant timeframes.
Procedure to appeal UK visa refusal
Once you have received a decision advising you that your application has been refused, you normally have three main avenues on how to proceed. Our advice is that a consultation with a qualified immigration lawyer should be sought at the earliest opportunity. Fighting a case that is doomed to fail can be very time-consuming and financially exhausting at the same time.
- Following receipt a refusal with a right of appeal, the first option is to, of course, appeal the refusal of your visa application. The reasons for refusal must be examined in detail and matter assessed thoroughly to understand why the application was unsuccessful and how it can be challenged.
- The second option is to assess the refusal and reapply in an attempt to address the reasons for refusal. This option may lead to a result quicker than going through an appeal process. For entry clearance refusals, i.e. those applying from overseas, it may be possible to appeal and reapply at the same time.
- The final option is to attempt to overturn the refusal before the appeal is lodged by requesting reconsideration by the UKVI. This is the most difficult option and usually applies where an obvious error has been made by the UKVI. A lot will also depend on the timeliness of your actions, since you may only have less than 14 or 28 days to resolve the issue.
Appealing your UK visa refusal
If the decision has been made to appeal a visa refusal, it is very important to prepare the case comprehensively.
The preparation will include a full assessment of the documents and evidence submitted, assessment of reasons for refusal, drafting grounds of appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal, drafting witness statements, completing the appeal form and compiling an appeal bundle. The appeal will then be lodged with the Immigration Tribunal and later served on the Home Office.
Quite often we see clients and even other legal practitioners cutting corners when lodging the appeal against their visa refusal. Usually, this will be one of the following:
- Preparing very basic grounds of appeal without fully addressing the reasons for refusal
- “Jumping” into appeal without sufficiently exploring other avenues
- Failure to prepare a complete appeal bundle with the supporting documents
What clients must understand that it is not the appeal itself that is important, but rather the fact that it must be their best attempt to get the decision overturned in the shortest possible time.
Once the appeal is lodged, the grounds and supporting documents are then served on the Home Office/UKVI. For entry clearance appeals, the matter will then be passed to an Entry Clearance Manager (“ECM”), who will review the appeal and all the documents.
An appeal that was prepared well in the first instance quite often leads to the decision being overturned at the ECM review stage, without even proceeding to the full hearing.
For in-country applications, there is now a dedicated Home Office team that can reconsider pending appeals. The team has been formed on 30 November 2018.
Our lawyers at Edmans & Co had unprecedented success in overturning appeals without even the need for a substantial hearing.
Reapply again following the UK visa refusal
In situations where the refusal was justified and/or the grounds for refusal can now be addressed fully by the applicant, it may often be quicker and easier to simply reapply.
There is generally no time limit on how soon a new application can be submitted (be mindful of limitations when time limit to lodge appeal/admin review is still ongoing), as long as the applicant is able to meet the requirements of the Immigration Rules or EEA Regulations.
Getting refusal decision reconsidered and overturned
First of all, it has to be said that there is no official way to request reconsideration of the refusal decision. The current position of the UKVI is that a decision must be challenged using the legal recourse available, i.e. appeal or administrative review.
That being said, in situations where the application was prepared correctly and the refusal is an obvious error by the decision making officer, it may be possible to get the decision reviewed and overturned.
By way of an example, we recently had a consultation with a client who approached us following a refusal of a spouse visa for his wife. The application was refused due to an alleged absence of a TB test from the supporting documents, all the other requirements were met. He had 28 days to appeal the decision.
The client was, however, adamant that it was provided as the TB test predated the date of application, but most probably either overlooked by the ECO or not scanned by the visa centre staff (a very common occurrence).
Following the consultation, the client initially attempted to contact UKVI to try to get the matter resolved. Unfortunately, he did not have any success, so he approached us to lodge an appeal with just under 2 weeks remaining until the deadline to lodge the appeal.
The appeal can be a lengthy process, so it would have been a lot of wasted time (up to 12 months) and money for the client to challenge such an obvious error by the UKVI through the Tribunal.
Following instructions, we prepared representations on behalf of the client and sent them to various departments at the UKVI. We were ready to lodge the appeal either way and not miss the deadline.
The clients were very pleased when after 4 days they received an email requesting a copy of the TB test again and later overturning the original refusal.
How Edmans & Co assist with Appeals?
Our team of immigration lawyers have extensive experience and award-winning expertise with working on UK Visa refusal appeals of all complexities.
We will thoroughly review the case following an initial consultation and advise you on all the available options, timeframes and expenses involved.
Should you decide to challenge the refusal, we will provide assistance with every step of the process, from lodging the appeal to representing you at the First-Tier and Upper Immigration Tribunals.
Send an enquiry to us now to speak to one of our immigration lawyers.
UK Visa Refusal Appeal FAQs
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about UK visa refusal appeals.
How soon can I reapply following the refusal of my visa?
There is no time limit on how soon the fresh application can be submitted (with certain limitations while on 3c leave or when the right of administrative review is still available). It is important that the reasons for refusal can be addressed fully in the fresh application.
How long does the appeal process stake?
Appeals can take anywhere from 6 to 12 months to be heard at the Immigration Tribunal.
Do I need to attend the Tribunal?
Appeals can be either oral or paper. Oral appeals usually provide the best opportunity for the appellants to present their case. You can either represent yourself or appoint a legal representative to attend the Tribunal.
What happens if my appeal is allowed?
If your appeal is successful, you would normally be issued with the visa or status you applied for. The Home Office/UKVI may also be required to pay the Tribunal fee back to you. It should be noted that the Home Office/UKVI can try to appeal the decision to Upper Tribunal.
What happens if my appeal is unsuccessful?
If your appeal is not allowed, it may be possible to apply to Upper Tribunal usually based on the “error of law” in the determination of the Firs-Tier Tribunal judge.