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How to deal with Home Office delays in decision making?

This article comes in handy as there is a current surge in jammed decisions from the home office. Irrespective of the reason for the delay, i.e. blame it on Covid or mad rush in EEA applications due to Brexit, no matter the excuse, you have the right to be ‘heard’ and on time.  

After making a valid immigration application to the Home office, there is usually a Customer Service standard timeframe from which they aim to make a decision on an application. The timeframe defer from application to application. You can check yours here. Whereas few days in excess appear harmless, excessive delays can be very frustrating, particularly where there is less information explaining such delays. 

It may yet be the most annoying thing, to get a HO cliché response that “each application is unique and different factors account for delay” or “there are complicated issues in your case which require further consideration” among other ‘Covid’ excuses. While there is no magic formula to fight your delayed application, these five actions should assist you in getting your required decision faster. 

1. Call or Write to the Home Office 

You may simply contact the Home office via phone or in writing (preferably). In doing so, you must include your relevant information such as; Full Name, Date of Birth, Nationality, Current Address and Home Office reference number. You must also include the application submission date, the type of application and the decision timeframe of such application which can be found on the home office website. 

If the timeframe for the decision has pass, you must indicate this and assert the impact the delay is having on you generally, your family or business. You can write to them to expedite your application even when they are within the timeframe if you have special reasons or extenuating circumstances which warrants the use of your travelling documents. 

Direct your request to the Home office department where your initial application was sent to. The HO aims to respond to your letter within 21 days. Follow the next step if the situation is unresolved. If you are not sure which email to write to, there is a chargeable email service available on Gov.uk.

2. Make a formal Complaint 

Complaints are very essential and mostly the first step to resolution or litigation. The Home Office is known for its amnesic attitude towards follow-up in the first instance, which is why you may need a formal complaint. Like the first letter, be sure to include all the relevant information to your application as stated above. Set out the reason(s) for your complaint as indicated in step 1. 

In addition, attach any previous letters and responses to the complaint. You may or may not receive any acknowledgement, however, allow 21 days for complaints department to investigate and respond to your matter. If your formal complaint is not resolved, then you may proceed with the next action. 

3. Contact your Local MP 

MP’s have the right to make private enquires to relevant government department (Including the Home Office) on behalf of their constituents. You may involve your local MP to make appropriate inquiries on your behalf, do include all essential details of your case and relevant correspondence from the HO. This step can often go a long way to providing a solution. 

Should your case remain unresolved, your MP can raise a complaint to Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (the body which oversees all unsolved complains of UK government departments and other public organisations) to make a final decision. Alternatively you may proceed with the next action. 

4. Issue a Pre- Action Protocol (PAP) Letter 

This is normally referred to as letter before action. Mostly in civil litigations, it is expected that the parties attempt to resolve the matter between themselves or at least narrow down the point in dispute, before proceeding to the courts. I strongly suggest you seek legal advice before embarking on this step.  

5. Lodge a Judicial Review Application 

If all the above measures fail, you may consider launching a judicial review against the Home Office. A judicial review action is brought against mainly administrative bodies like the Home Office if their actions are seen as unlawful, procedurally unfairness or irrational. Judicial Reviews are complex, costly and a lengthy process, therefore you must be prepared and be sure the Home Office delays/issues are significant enough to warrant court proceedings. 

If you have been affected by the Home Office delays or require immigration advice, contact our Immigration Lawyers on 0330 058 3929.

Disclaimer: No material or information provided on this website should be construed as legal advice. Readers should always seek appropriate professional advice to resolve their Legal Matters.
About the Author

  Clement Mensah

Clement is an Associate handling Immigration, Wills and Estate Planning matters with a strong legal academic background having completed BSc in Land Economy and pursuing Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) from Nottingham Law School.

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