The Government is proposing a massive fivefold increase in immigration appeal fees in order to make the immigration tribunal the only part of the court and tribunal service entirely self funded by fees:
We therefore propose increasing fees in the First-tier Tribunal from £80 to £490 for an application for a decision on the papers and from £140 to £800 for an application for an oral hearing. We also propose introducing a new fee of £455 for an application to the First-tier Tribunal for permission to appeal to the Upper Tribunal.
We also believe that the same principles should apply to appeals to the Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) so the consultation also seeks views on introducing fees, set at full cost recovery levels, for these proceedings. The consultation proposes a fee of £350 for an application to the Upper Tribunal for permission to appeal, where permission has been refused by the First-tier Tribunal, and a fee of £510 for an appeal hearing where permission is granted.
In percentage terms, the increase from £140 to £800 for a First-tier Tribunal oral hearing comes in at 570%. And remember, when the Immigration Bill becomes law that will be for an out of country appeal at which the appellant is not allowed to be physically present. Even an “on the papers” hearing where there are no lawyers or witnesses is going up from £80 to £490, an increase of over 600%.
The consultation paper can be found here. You can see the impact assessment and equality statement at the same link. The impact assessment assumes a 20% reduction in appeals as a consequence of the new fees. There is no account taken of the very likely sharp reduction in appeals once the Immigration Bill becomes law. The equality statement accepts that people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds will be disproportionately affected but considers this justifiable.
There will continue to be exemptions and the consultation proposes some extension of the exemptions:
This includes those who qualify for legal aid or asylum support; those who are appealing against a decision to deprive them of their citizenship; and those children bringing appeals to the tribunal who are being supported by a local authority. We will also extend our exemptions to protect children being housed by the local authority and the parents of children receiving local authority support. In addition, we are consulting on further extensions to the exemptions scheme in this consultation to make sure we continue to protect the most vulnerable.
The proposal is to model additional fee waivers on the Home Office’s own visa fee waiver system, which is based on proving that the applicant is destitute.
As is currently the case, the Home Office will usually have to repay the appeal fee if the appeal succeeds.