In a move to further restrict immigration applicants’ appeal rights and access to the court, the government hiked prices for the Immigration Tribunal fees for up to 500% earlier this year. This policy saw fees increased from £80 to £490 for a paper hearing while the fee for an oral hearing rose from £140 to £800.
The government faced a series of backlash since April as increasing the tribunal fees to such levels will effectively block access to justice as many will be prevented from challenging incorrect decisions made by the Home Office and thereby increasing the overall costs of UK visa fees.
On a surprise but, nevertheless, a very welcome news the government made a u-turn and scrapped the policy.
In a written statement released by the Ministry of Justice last Friday, 25th November 2016, Justice Minister Sir Oliver Heald said:
“We have listened to the representations that we received on the current fee levels and have decided to take stock and review the immigration and asylum fees, to balance the interests of all tribunal users and the taxpayer and to look at them again alongside other tribunal fees and in the wider context of funding for the system overall.
From today all applicants will be charged fees at previous levels and we will reimburse, in all cases where the new fees have been paid, the difference between that fee and the previous fee.”
This is a welcome relief in a time when the government is trying hard to restrict applicants’ right to fight the Home Office on their decisions.