Visitor Visa Refusal on Grounds of Deception
If Novak Djokovic’s immigration case teaches us anything it is that even a tennis super star, or a third party on his behalf, can make a mistake on an immigration application form. It matters not whether you are a frequent traveller for sports or business purposes or wanting to come to the UK to visit family or attend your child’s graduation ceremony, the refusal of a visa application can not only upset all your travel plans, a Home Office refusal can be pretty demoralising as well. In this article our immigration solicitors take a look at visitor visa refusal on the grounds of deception in advance of the Spring and summer rush of enquiries about what to do if a visitor visa has been refused on the grounds of deception.
UK Online and London Immigration Solicitors
Visitor visa refusal
It is one thing to be disappointed to be told ‘no’ by the Home Office when you ask to visit the UK but it can be devastating when your visit is for family or business reasons rather than pure tourism. For example:
- Coming to the UK to attend the wedding of a family member or
- Travelling to the UK to see your child who is an international student in the UK on a student visa or
- Arrival in the UK to attend a business seminar or
- Coming to the UK to scout out the possibilities of setting up either a new business in the UK or opening a branch office of an overseas based company in the UK.
All of the above are valid reasons why you may want to apply for a UK visitor visa and why you are likely to be upset if your visitor visa application is refused, especially if the Home Office grounds of refusal are said to be deception. Immigration solicitors understand that most visa applicants are livid (to say the least) when they think that they have wrongly been accused of immigration dishonesty.
The visitor visa immigration rules
To understand why your visitor visa may be refused on the grounds of deception and what you can do about it, you need to understand the visitor visa immigration rules. They are contained in Appendix V Visitor to the immigration rules. The appendix needs to be read in conjunction with Part 9 of the immigration rules.
If the Home Office believes that there has been some form of deception in your visitor visa application, they have the grounds to refuse the application. Deception can be a mandatory or discretionary ground for visitor visa refusal.
The key question is therefore what amounts to ‘deception’ in the visitor visa and general immigration rules?
Visitor visa refusal on the grounds of deception
Deception is defined in the Collins dictionary as ‘when someone deliberately makes you believe something that is not true.’ The immigration rules do not include a definition of what the Home Office classes as ‘deception’ but there is Home Office guidance for Home Office officials to help them assess visa applications where deception is suspected.
The Home Office guidance follows the dictionary definition of deception and refers to false information with no intention to deceive and the separate matter of deception. That makes sense as after all most of us have filled a form in incorrectly at some point in our lives. For example, inserting the wrong year of birth by typing one number incorrectly or clicking on a drop-down box without paying enough attention. That is your classic mistake unless an element of deception can be shown. For example, with the Youth Mobility Scheme there is an age limit of eighteen to thirty for applicants so someone incorrectly entering their age at twenty-nine together with false passport and other documents showing an incorrect age may be guilty of deception rather than a simple error.
What about the case where your agent or a third party has filled in the paperwork for you? This is of course the very argument that was raised in the case of Novak Djokovic. It also is not unusual for a visitor visa applicant to ask another family member to sort out the paperwork for them as ‘they are good at that’. Immigration solicitors therefore see many cases where errors are made in visitor visa applications by a person other than the visa applicant. The Home Office say a third-party error is not deception if the mistake was not reasonably known to the visa applicant. However, if the Home Office conclude that you should have known about the error they can conclude, depending on the circumstances and severity, that it amounts to deception.
It is also important to remember that deception can happen by omission. For example, not mentioning previous convictions when asked.
Is a Home Office finding of deception important?
If the Home Office find that you were deceptive in your visitor visa application then this will go on your immigration record and may affect your ability to successfully secure entry clearance to the UK in future. That is why if you are worried about getting the forms right you should ask a specialist immigration solicitor to complete them for you. If you are completing the forms yourself, or asking a family member or friend to do so, then check and double check the contents.
A Home Office finding of deception is important because if your visa application is refused because of deception, you may not necessarily have a right of immigration appeal. Even if you do have a right of appeal ( because your application involved your human rights) then appealing is still hassle, expense and delay that you don’t want or need. It is best to get your application right first time.
If the Home Office make a finding of fact that it was more likely than not that deception was used in your visitor visa application the guidance says your application must be refused. Crucially, if you make another visa application within ten years the Home Office may refuse your application based on the previous deception finding. Even if your next visa application is made outside ten years the Home Office could still exercise discretion and refuse the application. Not mentioning and ignoring a previous finding will not be the answer to a successful immigration application.
One error and a finding of deception can therefore have long lasting consequences. You may need to try to challenge any allegation of deception to avoid it affecting your immigration future. You could do this by appeal, judicial review or alternatively by making a fresh visitor visa application. If you make a new application then it is vital that the application explains why you were not deceptive in the previous application. For example, explain that inaccurate information was an honest mistake that was not made with the intention to deceive but because of a lack of attention to detail. The other option is to ensure that when you make your second visitor visa or other visa application it involves a human rights claim so Home Office officials can exercise discretion.
UK Online and London Based Immigration Solicitors