There have been a number of newsworthy items in recent months relating to appeals from those born outside the UK in cases involving those entering or staying in the UK.
The Government announced on 11 May 2012 as part of its Crime and Courts Bill that it would be curtailing the right of appeal of individuals whose applications for family visas had been rejected. If the bill is approved by parliament, individuals will no longer automatically have the full right of appeal.
There will still remain a limited right of appeal in cases where the grounds are on the basis of human rights or race discrimination. However, even in these cases the UK-based family member must already have settled, refugee or humanitarian protection status.
If the Crime and Courts Bill passes through parliament in the next session it will come into effect in 2014. However, additional changes to the rules governing family visas came into effect separately on 9 July 2012 that will narrow the definition of the family relationship for UK visa purposes. From this date a family member will only include: an uncle, aunt, nephew, niece or first cousin.
It is worth noting that the change in the rules will not affect standard visitor visas to the UK, as they will only relate to applicants for permanent residence in the form of family visas.
The changes in the rules are intended to speed up the court process, prevent abuse of the system and deliver savings in administration.
In other developments, on 19 June MPs passed a motion by home secretary Theresa May calling on the judiciary not to reject deportation of non-UK citizens on the basis of a right to family life (article 8 of the European convention on human rights). There has been some debate as to whether the judiciary would accept the parliamentary motion or would reject what could be seen as interference in judicial autonomy.
However on 20 June the Guardian reported that the Supreme Court had dismissed appeals against deportation by four individuals whose appeals were on the grounds of a right to family life. The Supreme Court justices stated that the interests of criminal justice clearly outweighed the article 8 rights of the individuals concerned in those cases.
The justices did, however, uphold the appeal of a fifth individual, on the basis that the crime had happened in the individual’s home country a considerable period of time, they had lead a law-abiding life in the UK since then and the effect on the individual’s children would be extremely detrimental.
Clearly appeals will be judged on the merits of each case. However, the Supreme Court rules do allow precedents to be set that can be applied to future cases.