How to appeal against a visa refusal

There have been a number of recent changes to the rules and procedures on appeals against UK visa refusals and some rights of appeal have been removed altogether.

The UK Border Agency (UKBA) provides factual information on how to lodge an appeal but cannot give legal advice.

For instance, if you are in the UK and have been refused on an application to extend a UK visa and wish to appeal against the refusal you can visit the UKBA’s Appeals for extension, switching and settlement applications page.

If you have the right to appeal – your refusal letter should mention this – you may appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (Asylum and Immigration Chamber) of HM Courts and Tribunals Service.

At present you can submit an appeal by post or fax to:

First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber)
PO Box 6987
United Kingdom

Fax: (+44) (0)116 249 4214

The above details, as well as the process, are subject to change and you must check the UKBA website or take legal advice before submitting an appeal.

The Ministry of Justice website contains factual information on the appeals process, as well as downloadable forms and details of any fees payable to lodge the appeal.

If you win your appeal the Judge may ‘award’ or order the UKBA to compensate you any fees you may have paid: at present £80.00 for a determination on the papers (without a hearing) or £140.00 for a full oral hearing.

Appeals are made through the tribunal or court system and cases are decided by Immigration Judges who are independent of the UKBA or Home Office.

This differs from ‘administrative reviews’, which is an internal review system for visa refusals under the points-based system, for example a Tier 4 student visa, which does not carry a full right of appeal.

If the UKBA refuse your application, they will send you a ‘notice of the decision ’ letter which will state your appeal rights, if any.

Not all visa refusals have full rights of appeal. Some of the cases which attract full rights of appeal include:

  • partners, children and other dependent relatives of British citizens or settled persons, who are seeking to come to the UK with a view to settlement; and
  • family visitors, who want to visit qualifying family members in the UK
  • Some in country refusals on visa extensions
  • European or EEA refusals
  • Yellow or Blue Card refusals for Bulgarian and Romanians

If you have the right of appeal, the UKBA will normally will send you an IAFT-2 appeal form along with the refusal or notice of decision letter. They will include an information document explaining how to complete the appeal form.
In most cases, you will be charged a fee – £80.00 for an ‘on the papers’ (without a hearing) appeal or £140.00 for a full oral hearing – when you make an appeal.

Lodging or making an appeal

To lodge an appeal against a refusal you should:

  • complete form IAFT-2 and send it with your notice of decision to the tribunal address or fax; or
  • complete and submit an online appeal form on the Ministry of Justice website .

The appeal form must be completed in English, however, you can requested an interpreter at the hearing.

You should have valid grounds on which to appeal. In other words, you need to explain why you think the UKBA were wrong to refuse your application based on the application presented. There is no point in appealing just because you don’t like the decision or because you are now presenting new documents which you should have submitted with your visa application.

If you appeal using form IAFT-2, you or your legal representative (if you have one) must sign the form or it will be returned to you.

If you have documents supporting your grounds for appeal, you should send these with the form, although a full bundle of evidence and statements can be submitted prior to a full hearing.

Documents must be in English or accompanied by a certified translation. Use standard A4-sized paper only for your supporting documents without staples.

Your appeal form must be received by the tribunal within the time specified on your notice of decision, and will be deemed as accepted when the First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) (FTTIAC) receives your payment.

The FTTIAC will then notify the UKBA or visa office that you have lodged an appeal against the refusal, by sending them a notice of receipt.

At this point an officer or Entry Clearance Manager (ECM) should review the refusal decision and may decide to overturn the refusal, but in most cases the appeal will proceed.

If they are defending the refusal the UKBA will write a statement explaining why the decision should be upheld and send this and all your papers or ‘the appeal bundle’ to the FTTIAC.

In practice, not all cases are defended, but you should prepare for your appeal to be opposed by a Home Office Presenting Officer (HOPO) at a full hearing.

It is the HOPO’s job to defend and oppose the appeal however much they may sympathise with your case.

The FTTIAC will:

  • list your appeal for hearing;
  • send copies of all the relevant papers (including the ECO’s written statement) and supporting documents to both parties including your representative or sponsor; and
  • advise parties of the date and time of your hearing.

An independent Immigration Judge will ‘hear’ your appeal in the UK in a formal setting at a tribunal or court. The Judges do not wear wigs and gowns and are normally helpful and approachable.

The Judge will examine and consider all the evidence provided by you or your legal representative and by the Home Office. He or she will ‘determine’ your appeal based on the details of your refusal case in accordance with the relevant UK Immigration Rules.

The Judge will normally inform the FTTIAC of his or her decision in writing no more than 10 days after the hearing. The FTTIAC will then send that decision (known as a ‘determination’) to everyone involved.

If the judge ‘allows’ or awards your appeal, his or her determination will be sent in writing to the relevant visa section or UKBA department, which will in turn contact you.

This process can take several weeks if not months. Allow up to 4 weeks for determinations to reach a visa section, and a further 8 weeks for this to be processed. The section will write to you using the contact details provided on your appeal form.

Remember also that the losing side has a further right of appeal and can apply to the Upper Tribunal for permission to appeal. Some cases have been known to go all the way through the appeal and supreme courts and to the European court.

Some human rights and Article 8 right to a family life appeals have gone on for as long as 10 years, which means the UKBA cannot remove you until the case has been finally decided.

In cases where you are not given a right of appeal, such as a removal order, you still may be able to apply to the Administrative Court for permission to lodge a Judicial Review to challenge the decision. The British legal system is fair but also complex. Laws are written by lawyers for lawyers. You will improve your chances of success if you seek specialist legal advice.

If you need any immigration advice or are worried about the new immigration rules or need help with Sponsorship or Tier 2, Tier 4, applying for university if your college has closed down, Visa, ILR, Settlement, Citizenship, Dependant Visa or an appeal against a UK Border Agency or British Embassy refusal, or if you have been waiting for a reply from the Home Office for longer than a year, please email:

Immigration Lawyers | Immigration & Visa Specialists | Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm | | 020 7237 3388