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Full right of appeal for family visitors to be scrapped by Crime and Courts Bill

The government intends to discard full right of appeal for family visitors by January 2014.  In much shorter term, from July 2012, the right of appeal will only be available to the core family members – parents, grand parents, spouse and children – of persons settled in the UK, or of those granted refugee status or humanitarian aid.

This latter change will be introduced by secondary legislation which will amend the definition of “family members” in the context of “family visitors” so as to exclude cousins, uncles, nieces and nephews. It will also amend the definition of “sponsors” so as to exclude persons with limited leave to remain in the UK from sponsoring family visits.

The change in the definitions will entail loss of appeal rights, other than on the grounds of breach of Human Rights or racial discrimination, for those who no longer fall into the group.

The remaining family visitors will lose their right of appeal under the immigration rules by January 2014.

Historical background: The appeal rights for visitors had been removed in 1993 to be reinstated for family visitors in 2000 under the pressure of the Human Rights watch groups and affected communities. Since then, tens of thousands of appeals are allowed annually declaring the decisions of the Entry Clearance Officer to be not in accordance with the law.

Ironically, the decision to do away with the right of appeal for the remaining group is declared to be in pursuit of “preventing and tackling abuse of family migration” and “increasing public confidence in our immigration system”.

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