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Who are Immigration Judges & what are their backgrounds

When you appeal a decision in the UK or overseas, your appeal will be heard by the First-Tier Tribunal Immigration and Asylum Chamber. This Tribunal has the lion’s share of the work as an independent Tribunal considering whether the decisions of the Secretary of State for the Home Department or the Entry Clearance Officer are in line with asylum and human rights law.

Fee-paid and salaried judges

The judges that ‘sit’ in the First-tier Tribunal are comprised of two groups; fee-paid judges and salaried judges. Salaried judges are those that, you guessed it, receive a salary for their work. These judges are full time, so will usually sit two or three days a week, which also gives them time to write up their decisions. As well as salaried judges there are fee-paid judges who sit part-time. There is an upper limit and a lower limit to the days they may sit in a year, so some fee-paid judges sit much more than others. Most fee-paid judges have other roles, often in legal practice, though not necessarily in the immigration field. Many have a combination of judicial roles in different fields.

The Upper Tier Tribunal

Most appeals are completed in the First-Tier Tribunal. If you lose your appeal and you wish to appeal further, you must have permission to appeal to the Upper Tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber). You first apply to the First-Tier Tribunal for that permission and if unsuccessful, you apply to the Upper Tier Tribunal for that permission. If permission is granted, you will have an error of law hearing at the Upper Tribunal heard by either an Upper Tribunal Judge or a Deputy Upper Tribunal Judge. Deputy judges are rather like the fee-paid judiciary mentioned above, they receive remuneration per day and are usually have other roles either in the judiciary or in practice.

Upper Tribunal Judges and Deputy Upper Tribunal Judges also hear judicial review applications. A judicial review is where there is no right of appeal against a decision, but there has been a challenge to the lawfulness of that decision to the Upper Tribunal. The Upper Tribunal decides on whether the Claimant has ‘permission’ to judicially review the decision and will then make a decision on the substantive judicial review. 

Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court

There are also judges in the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. These judges are not divided by their jurisdiction any longer. The judges deal with all civil matters, not just immigration. The Civil Division hears appeals from the High Court (which also hears some immigration judicial review cases) and from the Upper Tier Tribunal. Again, permission must be sought and granted. An appellant should first apply for the case to be heard by the Upper Tier Tribunal and if this is refused, they may apply directly to the Court of Appeal (Civil Division).

Court of appeal judges in the civil division are made up of the any of the heads of division (that is the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, the President of the Queen’s Bench Division, the President of the Family Division, the Chancellor of the High Court, or the Master of the Rolls). Cases may also be heard by the Lord Justices of Appeal. 

It may be that a further right of appeal exists to the Supreme Court, but this will be rare indeed. The Supreme Court is made up of Supreme Court Justices. The Supreme Court is headed up by Baroness Lady Hale.

Westkin Associates undertakes judicial review matters

Westkin Associates is a leading immigration firm based in Mayfair, London. We are one of the few firms, regulated by the OISC to the highest level and can undertake the work for judicial reviews.

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