How is the immigration appeals system structured?
Firstly, a brief history of the structure of the appeals process. From 1973 to 2004 there was a two tier system in place for dealing with immigration appeals named the Immigration Appeal Tribunal (IAT) and this year, in 2010, the existing Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (AIT) has been split from a single tier system (2005 to 2010) into the First Tier and Upper Tier of the Immigration and Asylum Chamber (IAC).
Who are the adjudicators in the Immigration & Asylum Chamber?
The adjudicators in the Immigration & Asylum Chamber are called Immigration Judges and are also joined by non-legally qualified members if the case requires this. Immigration Judges can sit in panels of up to three but most commonly sit as a single adjudicator.
The Immigration & Asylum Chamber has a President with two Deputy Presidents, directly below him/her. One of the responsibilities of the President is to issue a practice direction giving guidance on how panels should be composed for different types of cases.
Regionally (i.e. in each hearing centre), Senior Immigration Judges take care of judicial management and legal responsibilities with Designated Immigration Judges, one grade down, supporting a collegiate judiciary of around ten Immigration Judges.
What are the principles governing the Immigration & Asylum Chamber?
The Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (Procedure) Rules of 2005 outline the proceedings that guide judicial decisions in the Immigration & Asylum Chamber. The aim of these rules is to provide principles to be interpreted by Immigration Judges in cases that involve discretionary decisions. Rule 4 of the 2005 Rules states that the overriding objective was to handle proceedings ‘as fairly, quickly and efficiently as possible’. This has been criticised since then for suggesting that fairness would not be as uppermost in the Immigration Judges’ minds as expediency – especially since the same part of the 2003 Rules stated instead that they aimed to ‘secure the just, timely and effective disposal of appeals and applications’.
As was pointed out by the UNHCR, the ‘fundamental concern’ should be, instead, ‘correctly identifying those who are in need of international protection’ and to make accurate decisions so as not to put appellants at risk if they return to their own countries. Although it is clear that, with immigration such a controversial topic in the UK’s politics at this time, speed and efficiency are particularly welcome, usually by all the parties concerned.
How long do appellants have to appeal an Immigration Decision?
There are very short time limits in place for appealing decisions. According to rule 7 of the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (Procedure) Rules of 2005, an appeal will be deemed as out of time after just ten days. If the person is currently in detention, they have five days to serve the correct appeal forms. This system has been criticised for a lack of impartiality with such strict deadlines for appellants’ whose first language might not be English and who may struggle to find public funding for legal advice and representation.
For more information on:
- What is the appellants’ right to be heard?
- How are the Notices of Hearing and determinations served on all parties?