It is an unfortunate characteristic of the UK’s current law and practices in respect of immigration, that applying for leave to remain on the grounds of human rights in the UK can be an extremely expensive process. Escalating fees and the advent of the Immigration Health Surcharge can push fees to an unaffordable level. The cost as of October 2019 for an in-country human rights application is £1033. Add to this an Immigration Health Surcharge of £400 per year for each year of the leave to be granted, in the case of an in-country application this would be 30 months, the additional cost would be £1,000.
If you wish to instruct an Immigration lawyer; you will most probably be looking at an upfront cost of a further £1,500 at least. Then consider that the Tribunal allows approximately 50% of appeals to it, indicating that the Home Office policy in respect of Article 8 ECHR is not exactly aligned with how the Tribunal interprets the law on Article 8 ECHR. Note that you will incur further costs for the appeal.
The purpose of this blog is to highlight the most important steps a person with limited means can take when completing their own Article 8 ECHR application.
Remember preparation is key
The importance of preparation at this stage cannot be overstated. It is not for the Home Office or the Tribunals to give pointers to Applicants or Appellants on the evidence they need to bring to support their appeal, unfortunately, this point is often lost on applicant’s in person, and indeed some representatives!
Step 1: Do you qualify for a fee remission?
It is worth checking whether you meet the Home Office requirements for a fee remission. This can save considerable funds if you meet the requirements and can demonstrate to the Home Office that you are eligible. Check the guidance here: Home Office fee waiver guidance.
Step 2: Expert evidence your claim
This is so important. You must give yourself the best possible chance by properly evidencing your claim. Consider why you want to remain in the UK. Are you caring for someone in the UK who has no-one else to care for them? If so, you must provide proper medical evidence of this from a professional involved in their care. If you cannot obtain evidence from professionals involved in care, you should obtain a report privately to assess this relationship and the care given, without this you are unlikely to get far with the Home Office or the Tribunal.
In all circumstances, you need to consider the best reports or documents that you may be able to obtain to evidence your case. Other examples of evidence you should obtain include country specific reports that may show circumstances you might face on return to your own country. Where there are children that may be affected by the decision to remove you from the UK, you should ensure that expert evidence is available for the Home Office or Tribunal to recognise the effect on the child/children.
Step 3: Witness statements
It is important to provide detailed witness statements of all of the key witnesses. This is likely to include you, the Applicant. It is not enough for these statements to describe you as a good person, or kind, or an asset to the UK. It is important that witnesses address the Applicant’s ties to the UK, that may be family members, friends, community groups, aid provided to person’s within the UK and so on. It is important that the witness writes about matters only within their knowledge and provides sufficient detail for the reader to understand the Article 8 ECHR evidence.
When should you consult an immigration solicitor?
Whilst your financial consideration deserves due consideration, appeals are a difficult process and require deft hand.
It is worth remembering that if an appeal is denied, often all one can do is request a review of said appeal. If the initial case for appeal was weak and did not adequately highlight the strengths of your case; you may be denied leave to remain in the UK or to stay with your family.
Westkin Associates appreciates the inherent difficulties of launching an appeal and pride ourselves on our transparency and fair price. We promise to provide a high-quality service whilst tailoring our expertise to meet your needs whilst you have the strongest case.