52% of all visa and immigration decisions taken by the U.K Home office when challenged were overturned on appeal, figures released by the government itself show.
The staggeringly high figure suggests most refusals might not be based on merit and retaining legal representation is key to getting a correct judgement.
Immigration campaigners in the UK in recent years have increasingly been raising concerns over the potential abuse of power regarding the immigration process.
Concerns have been raised over a key piece of software which might be discriminating against entry clearance applicants on the basis of age or nationality whilst the Home Office itself has been accused of being a hotbed of discriminatory practices and institutional racism.
Numbers such as these only serve to bolster the argument against the Home office. In the year ending March 2019, 52% of all visa and immigration cases taken to appeal were overturned, affecting a staggering 23,514 applicants.
The numbers have convinced campaigners the right decisions are not being taken in the first place in regards to most of these applications.
Campaign groups argue these decisions affect many people who are often “left waiting in limbo for years, often separated from their families, held in detention or deported as a result of terrible decisions.”
The appeal success rate of 52% represents a 13% increase from 2016, and a huge component of the increase is believe to revolve around media exposure.
When a case gets media attention, the Home Office gets more sceptical in dealing with it due to bad press coverage, which can lead to successful appeals of decisions which should never have been taken in the first place.
With legal experts raising concern over the lack of legal aid for those seeking to appeal decisions by the Home office – despite the Home Office itself ‘laughably’ claiming legal advice is not needed for their application process – it is imperative to retain legal services when dealing with them, especially in the face of over half of its decisions eventually turning out to be wrong when most applicants currently don’t even have legal representation.
As Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbot put it: “The data clearly shows that under this government, most immigration decisions that go to appeal were initially wrong, even though there is hardly any legal aid available to claimants.”
The true appeal success rate could be higher if most applicants retain legal aid.
In response to the allegations, the Home Office said the high success rate of appeals is because new information is often brought to light during the appeals process that was not available during the application process.
“…Appeals are permitted under a number of circumstances, commonly because new evidence is presented at tribunal hearings, which a decision maker previously did not have access to when adjudicating a case initially.” a spokesperson for the office said.
“The Home Office is committed to the ongoing improvement of the quality and accuracy of its decision making processes to ensure the correct decision is reached first time. All permitted appeals undergo a review to ensure we learn relevant lessons.”
“Every asylum and immigration application is considered on its individual merits in accordance with current UK immigration rules.” the spokesperson added.