Yesterday the Government published a consultation paper proposing new fees for proceedings in the First-tier Tribunal (immigration and Asylum Chamber) and Upper Tribunal (immigration and Asylum Chamber).
In a move that, if it comes to fruition, will devastate the ability of many migrants both EU and non-EU applicants to appeal and immigration decision in the tribunals, fees may increase by up to 600 percent in some cases.
A breakdown of the increases
According to the paper, the following proposals have been made:
- increasing fees in the First-tier Tribunal from £80 to £490 for an application for a decision on the papers
- increasing fees from £140 to £800 for an application for an oral hearing.
- a new fee of £455 to be introduced for an application to the First-tier Tribunal for permission to appeal to the Upper Tribunal.
- a fee of £350 for an application to the Upper Tribunal for permission to appeal, where permission has been refused by the First-tier Tribunal,
- a fee of £510 for an appeal hearing where permission is granted
The Government’s justification for the increase
The Government’s justification for the proposed increase in fees is that the current burden on the taxpayer must be reduced. The paper stated that the courts and tribunals service cost £1.8 billion in 2014-15, but only £700 million was received in income. This leaves a net cost to the taxpayer of around £1.1bn in one year alone.
By increasing the fees to the proposed level, the Government expects to raise an extra £37 million per year.
Proposed exemptions from the increases in fees
Individuals who will be exempted from the increases will include:
- those who qualify for legal aid or Asylum support;
- those who are appealing against a decision to deprive them of their citizenship;
- those children bringing appeals to the tribunal who are being supported by a local authority.
The Government also plans to extend exemptions to protect children being housed by the local authority and the parents of children receiving local authority support.
Further extensions to the exemptions scheme may be added following the consultation period.
Exemptions are not mentioned for those who are in the UK on the points-based system.
This announcement will be a further blow to migrants, who have been stripped of their general right to appeal decisions by the Home Office under the points-based system since 2015. Now they are facing the prospect of paying an enormous fee to access justice through the immigration tribunals.
Our lawyers will monitor the consultation process with interest.
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Posted on: Friday, 22 April, 2016