29 April 2016 #Immigration
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has released a consultation outlining Government proposals to increase immigration appeal fees with the aim of making the immigration tribunal entirely self-funded by fees. In its statement to parliament, the MoJ estimates that the taxpayer currently funds 75% of the costs of immigration and asylum proceedings. It is expected that these proposals would raise an additional £37 million a year, but what would they mean in practice?
In real terms, the cost of an application for an oral hearing is set to increase from £140 to £800 in the First-tier tribunal - a jump of 570%. To accommodate the self-funding aim, the Government is also proposing an entirely new fee of £455 for an application to a First-tier Tribunal requesting permission to appeal to the Upper Tribunal. A charge of £510 will then be applied for an appeal hearing in the higher chamber where permission is granted.
The consultation outlines exemptions to fees for people who qualify for legal aid or asylum support, those appealing against a deprivation of their citizenship, and for children bringing appeals who are being supported by the local authority. As is the case currently, those with appeals that succeed will have fees repaid. The MoJ say they’re also consulting on further extensions to the exemptions scheme to make sure that the most vulnerable are protected.
Nevertheless, if these proposals are implemented they will almost certainly make it very difficult, if not impossible, for many people to appeal an immigration decision. This consultation follows hot on the heels of recent increases to visa fees as well as proposals in the current Immigration Bill to require all immigration appeals to be pursued from abroad.