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Certificates of Approval


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Just a quick post to highlight the fact that charges are no longer made by the Home Office for Certificate of Approval applications. The other old requirements to get Certificates of Approval still apply and are covered in an old post on this blog. This is relatively old news as the change was announced on 9 April 2009 applying with immediate effect.

I have railed before against the Home Office’s systematic disregard for the rule of law and inaction over cases they lose. What I only just found out about the Certificates of Approval change is that it was forced on the Home Office by yet more litigation. Someone (I’m not sure who) challenged the failure to respect the judgment of the House of Lords in Baiai, and the Home Office have conceded the case. Abandoning charging was apparently part of the consent order.

The Home Office announcement says that the Certificate of Approval policy is under review and hints that those who paid the fee may have it refunded. Keep watching the Home Office website for details.

I sometimes wonder if the Home Office secretly love immigration lawyers and like to make unnecessary work for us. They are currently forcing the development of a whole new area of satellite litigation: cases to force the Home Office to respect and implement old cases they already lost.

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The Free Movement blog was founded in 2007 by Colin Yeo, a barrister at Garden Court Chambers specialising in immigration law. The blog provides updates and commentary on immigration and asylum law by a variety of authors.


7 Responses

  1. FM

    My previous surprise was because this “generous act” by the HO seemed out of character. The “consent order” explains this.

    I think COA should now be scrapped. After all its no longer a money making application for the HO. Given staff shortages, resources could be better utilised here. My gut instinct was the system was bound to end up as a shambles from the day it was implemented, clearly impinging ECHR.

    Do you have any details of the other parts of the consent order by any chance?

    1. I don’t but would certainly like to know more. In particular, I wonder if a timescale has been agreed for any other changes to the scheme.

  2. Dear Freemovement,

    Simons, Muirhead and Burton brought a case R (on the application of AIRE Centre & JCWI) v Secretary of State for the Home Department. On 7 April 2009 the matter came before Mr Justice Silber. The Claimants withdrew their application for judicial review following an Order read out in open court by Silber J. The application was withdrawn on the following basis:

    “AND UPON the parties agreeing that, in light of the decision of the House of Lords in R (Baiai) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2008] 3 WLR 549, to charge a fee of £295 to applicants for permission to marry in the United Kingdom (under section 19(3)(b) of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants etc) Act 2004) is ultra vires in so far as it infringes the rights under ECHR Article 12 of a needy applicant

    AND UPON the Defendant agreeing that no fee will be charged to any applicant for such permission until the introduction of any legislation providing for a fee other than a fixed fee of £295.”

    On 9 April 2009 the Secretary of State published the following news item on the UK Border Agency website:

    “With effect from 9 April 2009 the UK Border Agency is suspending the fee for Certificate of Approval applications. This means that individuals making an application for a Certificate of Approval on or after this date will not be required to pay the fee. The fee has been
    suspended in order to comply with the House of Lords judgment in the case of Baiai v the Secretary of State for the Home Department.

    The UK Border Agency is carefully considering the implications for those who have already paid a fee and will shortly announce its policy in this respect.”

    1. Prakash, thank you very much indeed for that. It’s very interesting. Let’s hope the Home Office refund at least those who have paid the fee since the House of Lords case. Those who paid before that also ought to get their money back as the Lords ruling was effectively retrospective.

    2. How was this news kept out of the mainstream media?

      Was it the story about “Jacqui’s husband watching a movie at public expense” that stole the limelight?
      Was it the police attacks at the G20 protests?

      Either Jacqui has a good spin doctor, or she’s a very lucky politician. When can we have Blunket back ? – at least we all knew that it was the blind leading the blind.

    3. That’s good news for us then! £295 saved… jacqui’s fella would have a field day with that! :-)