This information should not be relied upon as legal or professional advice. Read the disclaimer.
Some immigration decisions attract a right of appeal, but most do not. Constituents should seek advice from a solicitor or accredited immigration adviser if considering an appeal.
Appeals are generally heard by the First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum), which is administered by HM Courts and Tribunals Service. The tribunal operates in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Appeal rights for immigration refusals are quite limited.
Generally, an appeal can only be made against a refusal based on:
- Human rights
- International protection (asylum)
- The EU Settlement Scheme
This means that most visa refusals do not have a right of appeal. The Immigration Act 2014 abolished most immigration appeal rights.
There is a right of appeal against refusal of a human rights claim. This means arguing that removal or denial of entry would be unlawful under section 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998. A typical human rights claim would be that removal from the UK would breach the person’s right to family life with a child or partner, for example.
The Home Office considers that certain types of immigration applications – those in family routes – inherently involve human rights and so attract a right of appeal (PDF). Refusals in other categories may say there is no right of appeal, although that is ultimately for the tribunal to decide.
International protection (asylum)
There is a right of appeal against refusal of a claim for refugee status or humanitarian protection, or revocation of either status. A typical international protection claim would be that removal from the UK would breach the UK’s obligations under the United Nations Refugee Convention.
EU Settlement Scheme
People refused the right to remain in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme, or to join a sponsoring family member, can also appeal.
There may also be a legacy right of appeal based on EU free movement law, broadly speaking for cases that were undecided by the time Brexit took full legal effect on 31 December 2020. Such cases will be increasingly rare as time goes by.
Types of appeal
Appeals to the First-tier Tribunal
People with a human claim may have to appeal from outside the UK if their case is ‘certified’ under section 94B of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002. This process – sometimes known as ‘deport first, appeal later’ – was suspended for some time but the Home Office indicated in June 2023 that it would begin certifying cases again (PDF).
Appeals from the First-tier Tribunal
The appellant or the Home Office can apply for permission for an onward appeal on a point of law if unsuccessful in the First-tier Tribunal. If a judge grants permission, such appeals are heard in the Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber).
Onward appeals are to the Court of Appeal of England and Wales, the Court of Session in Scotland, or the Court of Appeal of Northern Ireland. Appeals from those courts are to the UK Supreme Court.
Other avenues of challenge
An administrative review is an internal Home Office procedure. If an applicant does not have the right to appeal, they may have the right to apply for administrative review. This will be stated in the decision letter.
There is more information on the gov.uk website. This includes the procedures for people applying from inside and outside the UK, timescales and costs.
Judicial review is a type of court proceeding in which a judge reviews the lawfulness of a decision or action made by a public body (in this case, the Home Office). It may be possible to challenge a decision by judicial review instead of appeal, although this is more complicated and expensive.
Where to go for further information
The Commons Library briefing, Constituency casework: asylum, immigration and nationality contains useful sources of general information.
Citizens Advice is another source of help and advice.
The Right to Remain Toolkit, provided by the non-profit organisation Right to Remain, is a guide to the UK immigration and asylum system.
For constituents who decide to appeal without legal representation, there is guidance published by HM Courts and Tribunals Service.
The Commons Library does not intend the information in this article to address the specific circumstances of any particular individual. We have published it to support the work of MPs. You should not rely upon it as legal or professional advice, or as a substitute for it. We do not accept any liability whatsoever for any errors, omissions or misstatements contained herein. You should consult a suitably qualified professional if you require specific advice or information. Read our briefing for information about sources of legal advice and help.