UK Visa Appeal
Muldoon Britton were recently successful in appealing a Spousal Settlement Visa decision by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).
The application was initially submitted in August 2017. The client completed biometrics, and their application was submitted to UKVI shortly thereafter. The applicant, a US National, opted to purchase the priority service receipt in order to expedite the processing of the application, as the client hoped to arrive in the UK in early October to join their spouse, a British National.
It wasn’t until late October 2017 that the applicant received their passport and supporting documents, despite the letter from UKVI being dated late September 2017. UKVI had refused the client’s visa on the grounds that they did not meet the financial requirement – despite including 6 months’ worth of statements from various bank accounts, with monthly totals exceeding the £62,500 minimum cash savings requirement.
UKVI provided no explanation as to why it took them a full month to return the applicant’s passport and documents after refusing the visa application.
It is standard practice by UKVI not to disclose the outcome of an application for settlement in their e-mail confirming a decision has been reached
With most refusals for a settlement visa, the applicant is given a right of appeal in which they have 28 days to submit an appeal to the First-tier Tribunal: Immigration and Asylum Chamber. The tribunal are part of Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service, therefore making them an independent third party.
Muldoon Britton were confident at the outset that the client met all the requirements for a Spousal Settlement Visa and submitted the appeal on behalf of the applicant in October 2017, opting to have the appeal decided on papers rather than an oral hearing. It wasn’t until December 2017 that Muldoon Britton received a Notice of Pending Appeal from the court, confirming that the appeal process from the date of the letter was expected to take 15 weeks. UKVI were then invited to submit their own evidence to the court in support of their original decision within 28 days of receiving the notice.
UKVI also have discretion to overturn their initial decision and grant the applicant their visa at anytime during the appeal process.
In April 2018, the court provided Muldoon Britton with another update and confirmed that UKVI had not responded to the Notice of Pending Appeal. The court also confirmed that the appeal would be decided on papers on or after 8 June 2018 – much later than the initial 15-week deadline.
A decision was not reached until August 2018, when a judge of the First-tier Tribunal contacted Muldoon Britton directly to inform them that a decision had been made on the client’s appeal and we would be receiving a letter from the court in due course once the decision had been promulgated. The court finally sent a letter to Muldoon Britton approximately 2 weeks after the email from the judge, confirming the appeal had been allowed but gave UKVI 14 days to submit an appeal to the Upper Tribunal. If UKVI do not dispute the decision, then they must contact the applicant directly to proceed with issuing them the visa.
The initial decision made by UKVI was stated by the judge to be an ‘undoubted interference’ in the client’s right to a family life under Article 8 of the ECHR, given that the client clearly met the financial requirements at the time the application was submitted. The judge also awarded the client a payment of £140.00, which would cover the cost of submitting the appeal.
It can be noted from the above that appeals can take a considerably long time to be processed, and applicants are facing wait times of up to one year to receive a decision from the Tribunal. Appeals submitted from within the UK are treated as a priority over appeals submitted outside the UK, making the appeal process even longer for applicants applying for entry clearance. Whilst Muldoon Britton were confident their client met all the requirements of a spousal settlement visa and included all necessary documentation in the application, UKVI are prone to making administrative errors, especially when a client is relying upon multiple methods or accounts to meet the financial requirement.
Applicants do not have to appeal a decision made by UKVI to the Tribunal, and can submit a fresh application; however, they will be liable to pay the visa application fee again.
If you have been refused a visa and have been given a right of appeal or a right to an administrative review, please contact Muldoon Britton to discuss your options and prospects of success.