Coronavirus Update for Immigration Appeal Hearings in the UK at the First-tier Tribunal

Coronavirus (COVID-19) presents an unprecedented threat to human life all around the world and has been responsible for one of the biggest commercial standstills in the UK since the second world war. The UK Government has announced the potential closure of all non-essential businesses if they cannot work remotely from home. We have been inundated with a large number of enquiries regarding upcoming appeal hearings at the First-tier Tribunal and Upper TribunalOur specialist Immigration Team has been in communication with the Tribunals and can advise on what steps to take to best prepare for an upcoming hearing. Our Immigration Team is currently offering advice sessions via telephone, Skype and Gooogle Meet. 

Will Coronavirus stop me from submitting an Immigration appeal to the First-tier Tribunal?

If your application has been refused you will be given 14 calendar days to appeal the negative Home Office decision to the First-tier Tribunal. Our Immigration Team is working endlessly to maintain justice in these difficult times. However, in some circumstances, you may be given a right to an Administrative Review and no Statutory Right of appeal under Section 82 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 (“the 2002 Act”). The 2002 Act allows a person to appeal to the Tribunal where a decision has been made to either; refuse a protection claim, refuse a human rights claim, or revoke protection status. We are able to take control of your matter within minutes from your first call and submit a well-prepared appeal with detailed grounds for appeal. Once your appeal is submitted we will then simultaneously prepare for a substantive hearing complying with Tribunals directions and also make a formal request to the Home Office to reconsider their decision.

Will my First-tier Tribunal hearing be cancelled because of Coronavirus?

Due to the rapidly changing circumstances created by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, our Immigration Team is in regular communication with the Tribunals and we have been advised that all hearings in London will no longer go ahead in-person. However, this does not mean they have been automatically vacated. There are 3 possible options;  (1) the hearing is adjourned until further notice or (2) the hearing is conducted remotely via telephone or video link or (3) a decision is made on papers submitted. The Tribunal has advised that no action should be taken by Appellants until their legal representatives have been contacted by the Tribunal. The Tribunal is currently working through the listing to ensure there is minimal disruption. As of today, 26 March 2020, hearings outside of London are still going ahead but this due to change soon as London is ahead of the rest of the UK in terms of this pandemic. All Immigration-related hearings at the Upper Tribunal and Royal Courts of Justice (RCJ) have been delayed and will be relisted for remote hearings.

Earlier this week, the President of the First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) directed that all appeals will proceed by way of a Case Management Hearing (CMR)  via telephone or Skype which will take place on a date to be notified in a time slot to be allocated. Resident Judge J F W Phillips provided the following instructions (only applicable if you’ve been served the notice, if not you must wait):

  1. Within 5 working days of the date of this Notice, you must provide a direct contact number(s) and email address(es) for the Tribunal to contact you and any members of your organisation having any business with the Tribunal. If members of your organisation have access to Skype for Business, you must inform the Tribunal and provide all necessary information to the Tribunal to enable communication by that medium.
  2. You must comply with the following directions.
  3. All parties must be available 5 minutes before the allocated time
  4. The parties may make an application to the Tribunal at any time. Such an application must only be by email [email protected]
  5. Any witness statements and other evidence upon which the Appellant intends to rely must be sent electronically to the Tribunal and to the Respondent together with an Appeal Skeleton Argument (‘ASA’) within 15 working days of the date of this notice to [email protected]
  6. Within 10 working days of the provision of the ASA the Respondent must serve a response to the ASA by email to the Tribunal and to the Appellant’s representatives and if no response is received within the said time limit it will be assumed that the Respondent does not take issue with the submissions contained in the ASA.
  7. The ASA and the response together with all the evidence provided will be considered by a Judge who will consider, having given the parties an opportunity to make written representations (rule 25(2)), whether the appeal can be justly determined without a hearing (rule 25(1)(g)).
  8. In cases concerning international protection or the revocation of international protection the Appellant, if represented, must set out at the commencement of the ASA a summary of the Appellant’s case together with a schedule of issues as if the Pilot on-line Digital Pilot Directions applied (a copy of which is attached) and the Respondent must respond accordingly subject to the time limits set out in this Notice being applicable.
  9. Where it is not considered appropriate for the matter to proceed without a hearing, consideration will be given to the hearing of this appeal by remote means. To that end, each party must provide at the CMR or before
  • the means by which they, the appellant(s) and any witnesses, will engage with the Tribunal (the Tribunal expects all representatives to have access to Skype or Skype for Business);
  • the location of the Appellant;
  • the location of each witness, if any;
  • language of interpreter(s) if not already provided;
  • the number of pages in the bundle of documents to be relied upon;
  • no bundle may exceed 50 pages without the consent of the Tribunal;
  • any documents provided to the Tribunal must be in pdf format and reduced to the minimum number of documents required, for the avoidance of doubt generic bundles will not be accepted.

Can I ask for an adjournment if I have Coronavirus?

If you have contracted Coronavirus and you cannot prepare for your immigration appeal hearing you can make a formal request to the Tribunal to have the hearing adjourned to a later date. The Tribunal Procedure (First-tier Tribunal) (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) Rules 2014 at Rule 4 (3) (h) explains the scenarios in which the Tribunal may adjourn or postpone a hearing. The Tribunal must consider any valid reason for an adjournment request ensuring a fair and just decision is made to avoid a miscarriage of justice. The Upper Tribunal has previously discussed the issue of access to justice when considering an adjournment request in Nwaigwe (adjournment: fairness) [2014] UKUT 00418 (IAC).

Can I still see an immigration lawyer given the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic?

Yes. We are a technologically advanced law firm and are well equipped for the current situation and have the resources and infrastructure to support you with any UK immigration issue.

We are actively monitoring and responding to the COVID-19 situation and will continue to follow advice and guidance issued by the UK GovernmentPublic Health England, and the NHS.

The well-being of our team and our clients is our priority. We are following the advice to maintain social distancing, therefore we will hold all meetings with clients via video conferencing or via our telephone conferencing facilities for the foreseeable future.

Please contact our Immigration Team to arrange a consultation with us so we can assess your case in more detail and give you advice specific to your individual circumstances.

Using our Immigration Solicitors in London for advice regarding UK Visas and Immigration during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic

Legal representatives, such as our specialist immigration and visa law firm, are qualified to advise you on immigration law and your immigration status. It is possible to instruct an immigration and visa legal representative in order to advise on a UK Visa and Immigration appeal.

Caseworkers at the Home Office are trained to reject applications that are improperly prepared, for example by failing to provide the correct supporting evidence. In order to ensure your appeal succeeds, all necessary documents must be provided and directions complied with.

This can be a significant administrative task and you will need to submit the correct documentary evidence. The UK Immigration Rules are complex and a legal representative can help ensure that your appeal meets the relevant regulations.

Successful applications using our Immigration Solicitors in London during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic

Our team of solicitors and barristers are specialist immigration lawyers who act in your best interest. We offer a client-tailored approach from the outset. From the very first meeting, we will be able to advise you in respect of your immigration status and the merit of your visa and immigration application before your matter even reaches the Home Office UK Visa & Immigration department.

We can assist you with the preparation of your immigration and visa application and ensure that you meet all the requirements of the relevant rules.

We are based in the legal epicentre of London, just across the road from the Royal Courts of Justice in order to ensure we get the best results for our clients.  We are minutes away from the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal, the Royal Courts of Justice and other central London courts.

Preparation is the key to successful immigration applications. Our UK immigration and visa solicitors are here to guide you through the complex immigration rules and requirements. If you wish to speak with one of our lawyers, please call our Immigration Team so we can assess your case and arrange your legal consultation.

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