U-turn on proposed immigration appeal fee increases
The Minister of State for Courts and Justice has announced that the government’s proposed Immigration Tribunal fee increases will no longer go ahead.
The Proposed Changes
Last month, notable changes to the fee structure for immigration hearings were announced. On 10th October, increases to existing tribunal fees were implemented. These were significant, creating increases of up to 500%. A fee of £455 was also introduced for permission to apply to the First Tier Tribunal for permission to appeal to the Upper Tier Tribunal.
In addition, new fees were planned to be introduced at a later date. These included:
- A fee of £350 if the applicant wished to apply for permission to appeal to the Upper Tribunal
- A fee of £510 if the applicant wished to have an appeal hearing in the Upper Tribunal.
There was extensive criticism of these increases by multiple parties including law firms, members of the judiciary and NGOs. They argued that the fee increases would prevent access to justice and would discourage meritorious claims. Disadvantaged groups, such as asylum seekers, would suffer particular detriment.
Certain concessions were made in response to the overwhelmingly negative response. A fee waiver scheme was introduced to assist particularly vulnerable individuals. It was also announced that the Home Office would reimburse the tribunal fee if an appeal was successful. However, until recently, it looked as if the changes would continue to go ahead.
On 25th November 2016, the Government announced that, after further consultation, the fees which had already been increased and/or introduced would return to their previous levels. Anyone who has paid under the new regime will now be reimbursed. In addition, the fees which were yet to be introduced have been put on hold pending further consultation.
What does this mean?
Whilst this is certainly good news for the moment, the government has not backed down. The announcement still emphasises the costs of the tribunal system and their commitment to shifting the burden from the taxpayer. It is still highly likely that some form of increase will be introduced, although at this stage it remains unclear exactly what it will be.
Contact Our Immigration Appeal Barristers Today
At Richmond Chambers we have an excellent record of overturning Home Office immigration refusal decisions on appeal. If you are seeking expert legal advice and representation in relation to an appeal before the First-tier Tribunal or Upper Tribunal, contact our immigration barristers in London on 0203 617 9173 or via our online enquiry form.