If you are living in the UK using a Australian or other passport with a UK visa, you should be aware that a new legal regime will soon be in force.
The Immigration Bill is now coming to the end of its passage through Parliament, and is expected to be brought into force this summer.
Currently, if an in-time application for a new UK visa is refused, there is a right of appeal to an independent Immigration Judge. If the Judge decides in favour of the applicant, the Home Office must grant the new visa. Whilst the appeal is ongoing, the old visa is automatically extended, meaning that the applicant can continue to live or work under the same conditions until there is a decision.
Under the new law, applicants who are refused an extension to their visa by the Home Office will only be able to appeal to an independent Judge if the application engages issues of human rights or international protection. In practice this will be rare. If an appeal is not available, the applicant can only apply for an administrative review, in which the Home Office re-assesses the refusal internally.
There are serious concerns amongst immigration practitioners that administrative reviews will not provide an effective level of scrutiny, and the quality of Home Office decision-making will deteriorate. Moreover, the visa may end automatically when the Home Office issue their initial refusal, even if the decision is later challenged, meaning that the visa-holder must stop work immediately.
Against this background, it will become more important than ever that immigration applications are thoroughly prepared and checked by an experienced practitioner to ensure they satisfy the relevant rules and the correct documents are included.
Legal Adviser, Passportia, London