Deception Refusals and UK Visit Visa Applications
In this post, we discuss accusations of deception in visitor visa applications. Paragraph V 3.1 of Appendix V: Visitor provides that when you apply for entry clearance as a visitor, you must not fall for refusal under Part 9 of the Immigration Rules. Deception is mentioned in Part 9 as both a mandatory and discretionary reason for refusal.
What Is Immigration Deception?
Deception is not defined in the Immigration Rules. The Home Office guidance states:
“There is a distinction between information that is false but where you are not satisfied there was an intention to deceive by the applicant and cases where you are satisfied there was deception by the applicant.”
This confirms that although false information may have been provided as an innocent mistake, e.g. misspelling a postcode on the application form, this should not be considered deception. However, if the information is material to the decision, and benefits the Applicant, it may be considered deception as this increases the likelihood of it having been provided purposefully to increase the chances of a successful application.
Deception can also be the absence of any material information. For example, in relation to the ‘genuine visitor’ requirement, you must satisfy the Home Office that you will return to your home country at the end of your visit. Therefore, you should make sure to provide full details of all your ties to the UK, whether personal, financial or otherwise, as well as those in your home country. Similarly, you should provide information about any previous visa refusals (even those not in the visitor category), and of any criminal convictions (even if they are spent), however minor they may seem to you e.g. driving penalties.
When false information has been provided by a third party and could easily and reasonably have gone unknown by you, this may not be considered deception. However, in making this assessment, the Home Office must evaluate the circumstances such as whether you ought to have known the information was false e.g. because you signed a statement of truth, and how reasonable it was that you understood the information. This is confirmed in the judgement Chanda v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 2424. Although the application in that case was for leave to remain as a Skilled Worker, it is a useful example of the distinction: the Applicant provided a degree certificate from the University of London despite never having attended or graduated from there, which was intentionally dishonest.
Deception as a Mandatory Ground for Refusal
Where the Home Office can prove that it is more likely than not that the Applicant has used deception in their current application, the application must be refused under paragraph 9.7.2. The guidance is clear that the decision-maker should not refuse the application if they simply have “doubts” or “concerns” about the evidence or information given. If the Home Office allege deception based on their research of information from third parties e.g. HMRC, they should send you a ‘Minded to Refuse’ letter detailing the alleged deceptive information; you will then have an opportunity to rebut the assumption.
In any case the refusal letter must explain why the Home Office has concluded that there was deception.
If you have previously been accused of deception in another application (whether for a visit visa or another category) in the past 10 years, the current visitor application will be refused under paragraph 9.8.1. Crucially, it does not matter whether the deception was successful i.e. you were granted a visa or not. However, the fact that the Home Office previously believed the threshold was met and there made a finding of deception does not mean that there necessarily was deception. You could still make a fresh application, putting forward evidence that you did not actually provide deceptive information even though you have been accused of that.
The only exception to this refusal is where you have explicitly raised a human rights ground on your application form. If the application does engage human rights, then your application may be granted outside the rules.
Deception as a Discretionary Refusal Ground
If you were found to have used deception (whether successfully or not) and then apply for a visit visa outside of the 10 year window, you may still be refused a visa under paragraph 9.8.2. However, this will only happen if the decision-maker concludes that in addition to the deception, you “previously contrived in a significant way to frustrate the intention of the rules, or there are other aggravating circumstances (in addition to the immigration breach)”.
The Home Office guidance provides various examples of what this may include:
- Using a false identity;
- Frivolous applications;
- Taking part, attempting to take part, or facilitating, in a sham marriage or marriage of convenience;
- Previous working in breach of visitor conditions within a short time of arrival in the UK (indicating a deliberate intention to work).
However, the guidance is also clear that all the circumstances of the case must be considered, such as:
- Why the deception occurred;
- How the deception occurred;
- The period since the breach occurred;
- Any other circumstances, such as the impact of a refusal on the individual or their family living in the UK.
If you have previously been accused of deception, even if it was over 10 years ago, you should therefore explain clearly the circumstances of the previous deception. You should set out why no aggravating circumstances apply, or, where there are circumstances which could be construed as such, why your application should not now be refused.
What to Do if Your Visit Visa Application Is Refused Based on Alleged Deception?
If your visitor visa application raised a human rights ground, and it is considered to engage human rights, there will be a right of appeal, during which you will be able to put forward evidence of an innocent explanation. However, this is unlikely to be an option for most visitor applicants.
You may be able to challenge the refusal by judicial review, which would involve asking a Judge to consider the Home Office’s decision. It is important to note that it is not usually possible to provide new evidence in a Judicial Review and so if you wish to present new evidence to demonstrate that you have not exercised deception, this may be better done in a new application.
Contact our Immigration Lawyers in London
For expert advice and assistance preparing a fresh visit visa application following a previous refusal, contact our immigration barristers in London on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form below.