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Immigrants to be charged for appeals

Immigrants and asylum seekers will have to pay for appeals against decisions made over their cases, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has said.

Fees will apply to appeals against decisions refusing someone leave to remain, leave to enter, or vary their current leave to remain in the UK.

The fees will initially be between £60 and £250, some people will be exempted.

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants said immigrants already contribute through application fees.

The MoJ said last year it cost £115m to run the immigration appeals system.

A Tribunals Service spokesman said the new charges were expected to claw back some 25% of these running costs.

The precise amounts would be subject to the outcome of consultation but were expected to be about £125 for oral hearings and £65 for paper hearings, he said.

Onward appeals to the upper tribunal would cost in the region of £250, the spokesman added.

People who will be excluded from paying a fee are those who qualify for legal aid, those who are receiving asylum support and applicants who are in the asylum “detained fast track” process.

In some other limited instances, where there are certain exceptional or compelling circumstances, there will be a discretionary power for the lord chancellor to exempt payment of appeal fees.

In addition, those with appeals relating to deportation; revocation of leave; or deprivation of citizenship or right of abode, will not be charged a fee, the spokesman said.

He added that liable appellants would be charged regardless of whether or not their appeals are successful, because the system would still have incurred running costs whatever the outcome of the appeal. This would potentially mean that an applicant successfully appealing against an incorrect decision would not get the costs  repaid to them and this has prompted some concern.

Jonathan Djanogly, under secretary of state at the MoJ, said the move represented “responsibility, freedom and fairness”.

He said: “I believe that it is reasonable to ask non-UK citizens appealing against some categories of immigration and asylum decisions to contribute to the costs of the administration of that appeal, where they are able to.

“This is particularly the case given that some two-thirds of appeal cases are declined each year.”

A spokeswoman for the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants said: “Immigrants already contribute to the costs of the asylum and immigration appeals system both directly through the fees levied upon their immigration applications, and indirectly through the scheme for general taxation.

“Research shows that immigrants are net contributors to the public purse.

She added: “The cost of the immigration appeals system is in no small part a product of the poor quality of decision making by the UK Border Agency.

“Applicants should not be penalised for this particularly given that their appeals will often concern matters of life and death and other fundamental rights.”

The Home Office said the UK Border Agency accrued £750m-a-year from people applying for visas to visit, work or study or settle in the UK. Currently, the immigration and asylum tribunals system does not charge an appeal fee. Costs are met by the taxpayer, via the MoJ.