The rules relating to appeals against refusals to grant spouse visas changed on April 6th 2015 and from an applicant’s point of view they did not change for the better. Even before that date only a minority of appeals were successful. Tribunal statistics show that, between October and December 2014, 39% of appeals were granted. The new system is designed to be even more restrictive.

Higher hurdles

The redrafted formula only allows applicants to appeal on human rights grounds, which is a notably grey legal area and in any case one which the government is in the process of re-evaluating. At the same time, the right of appeal has been restricted to those who made their initial application on the basis of their family life in the UK. In simple terms, the appeals process has been written in such a way as to make it even more difficult for those not already entitled to live and work in the UK to do so.

To add to the difficulties faced by those who are striving to be reunited with their loved ones, the Government has stated its intention to establish a ‘non-suspensive’ appeals process. Non-suspensive appeals are also known as ‘out of country appeals’. In other words, there will be no right of appeal available to anyone within the UK. Anyone hoping to lodge such an appeal will have to do so from another country.

Practical obstacles

Needless to say, the practical barriers which this entails will do nothing to make it any easier for anyone whose initial application was rejected to overturn that initial decision. Much of the decision-making process rests on the completion of complex forms which, if they are not filled in entirely correctly, can be immediately rejected – irrespective of the merits of the case. The need to get the initial application 100% right has never been stronger.