As a result of the UK Government’s Statement of changes to the Immigration Rules: HC297, published on 13 July 2015 the process governing appeals against UK visa refusals has changed. Now, anyone whose application for a UK visa is refused and who does not have a legal right against that ruling - such as those on tier 4 student visas - is obliged to challenge the decision by means of an administrative review.

Instead of any appeal being heard by an independent tribunal the decision will be made by Home Office staff. This administrative review must be applied for within 28 days of receiving the UK visa refusal. This limited time-frame means that there is considerable pressure on applicants to achieve a rapid understanding of the review process, as well as to be able to assemble the necessary evidence and to complete all the relevant paperwork in order to set the process in motion. The cost of such a review is now £80.

Government officials have been explicit in their determination to ‘tighten up’ on visa applications, with the education sector frequently mentioned in this regard. In such a context any case brought before an administrative review hearing must - of necessity - present compelling evidence in favour of overturning the original decision. Specifically, there is a requirement to show that the original decision not to grant a UK visa was in some way flawed. The administrative review can only be argued on the basis of the evidence presented and assessed at the point of application. In effect, new evidence is outside the scope of the appeal.

At all points the ‘tightening up’ of legislative controls on UK immigration put a premium on the quality of applications and a sound understanding of what is required at every step of the way. There is no substitute for professional representation in a process such as this which is becoming both increasingly competitive and professionalised.