Nottingham tourists to be hit by new immigration laws

A clause in the Crime and Courts Bill will remove the full right of appeal for those foreign tourists applying to enter the UK on a family visitor visa. From July 2012 those applying to visit a close family member will no longer have a full right of appeal.

The number of appeals against refused family visit visas has soared since 2000, when full appeal rights were re-introduced. It was expected that there would be a maximum of 20,000 appeal per year but by 2010-11, the number had risen to almost 50,000. The cost of processing these appeals is estimated at £29 million per year and account for almost 40 per cent of all immigration appeals.

A survey by VisitBritain, who analysed overnight stays by overseas visitors in UK cities in 2011, shows Nottingham to be a hit with foreign tourists with Nottingham receiving 243,000 international visitors last year. The survey also showed that visits to the East Midlands increased by 8 per cent last year. “The withdrawal of appeal rights could significantly impact on the international tourist trade for Nottingham and the East Midlands” said Ghuffar Usman, Director of Usman Khan Immigration Solicitors based in Nottingham.

“Despite the economic difficulties Nottingham continues to attract an increasing number of international tourists which helps the local economy. Rather than preventing tourists and family visitors from coming to the UK the government and the Home Office should be looking at ways to improve international tourism” added Ghuffar Usman.

The Home Office carried out a consultation on whether applicants refused a family visit visa should have a full right of appeal and only 39 per cent of respondents felt that a full right of appeal should not be retained. The Independent Chief Inspector will continue to monitor visa refusals where applicants do not have a full right of appeal and the UK Border Agency will use this feedback to improve their application and decision making processes.

The changes will affect applicants who have been refused a visa to visit family members. Refused applicants will only be able to appeal on very limited grounds of human rights or race discrimination. Ghuffar Usman stated “where the Entry Clearance Officer has made an error in law or has failed to correctly apply the immigration laws or has made a factual mistake when considering the application, from July 2012 the applicant will not be able to seek legal redress and will simply have to accept the unlawful decision of the Entry Clearance Officer. We are trying to assist as many of our clients as possible to push through their family visit visa applications before the July 2012 deadline so as to protect their appeal rights”.

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