The UK prides itself on its long commitment to justice and the rule of law. We should all be able to challenge a decision which removes our rights, and we should all be able to have our concerns heard by a judge. No individual should ever have to challenge a decision made by the government on their own, without legal advice. It’s how we hold the powerful to account. This shouldn’t change if you happen to be born somewhere else.

Yet even though we hear so many stories about the Home Office getting it wrong, making an incorrect decision, endangering somebody’s life or splitting a family apart, many types of immigration decisions no longer give people the right to appeal. And even when there is a right to appeal, most migration cases are ineligible for legal aid, meaning individuals have to navigate a complex and difficult appeal process on their own, against an army of government lawyers.

Immigration decisions should always be open to appeal so that the Home Office is held accountable for wrongly upending people’s lives and is compelled to swiftly and fairly reverse bad decisions.

"The legal aid system has been decimated… Many poor people are unable to effectively claim and enforce their rights, [and] have lost access to critical support."

UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Statement on visit to the UK (2018) 

Our recommendations

  • Independent appeal rights should be reinstated for all applications so that nobody is forced to accept a life-altering mistake made by government officials
  • Legal aid should be reinstated for all immigration matters, so that nobody is forced to challenge the government on their own
  • Processes for internal administrative review should be made easier and more accessible, so that fewer decisions end up having to go to a tribunal

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