Before commencing work as an Immigration Barrister, I worked for the Home Office as a Presenting Officer (“HOPO”) for two years. In this role I represented the Secretary of State in over 500 immigration appeal hearings in the First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber). I am therefore often asked to give clients a “Home Office view” of how an appellant should approach such appeals.
The answer to this question is that the approach should vary depending on the specific case. The focus of some Immigration Appeal hearings is the internal consistency of an individual’s evidence, but in others the focus can be on objective background evidence. There are however some recurring themes which are often significant. In this series of short articles, I examine these themes.
Whilst telling the truth is something which is expected of all appellants, small mistakes can sometimes significantly damage an appellant’s credibility. Not answering questions which are put to an appellant by the HOPO or the Judge can sometimes be viewed as being evasive. Therefore, an appellant should listen to the question being asked and ensure that their response focuses on answering the question.
Sometimes appellants opt to speak in English when they would be more comfortable speaking in their native language. It is important to note that a tribunal judge is often not assessing an appellant’s ability to speak English, but instead the merits of their case. Therefore, the language in which an appellant chooses to give their oral evidence should be a language in which they are able to properly articulate themselves. If that language is not English, then the tribunal should be made aware of this as soon as possible to ensure that an interpreter is made available for the appeal hearing.
As held by the Court of Appeal in TK (Burundi) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 40 at , an immigration judge is entitled to draw adverse inferences from an appellant’s unexplained failure to produce supporting evidence which should have been available to that appellant.
It follows that where there is evidence, which is reasonably available, to corroborate an appellant’s claim, it should be included in their appeal bundle. If it is significant evidence but is not available at the date of the appeal hearing, an adjournment should be sought in order to obtain that evidence.
Appellants sometimes produce untranslated evidence. Under the Tribunal’s Procedure Rules, documents which are in a foreign language must be translated into English before reliance can be placed on them.
Instructing an Immigration Lawyer can greatly assist appellants with the presentation of their evidence. A well-prepared appellant’s bundle is greatly appreciated by immigration judges and assists appellants in presenting their case in an organised manner.
If you need help with an Immigration Tribunal appeal contact Demstone Chambers’ Immigration Barristers. We are experts in UK immigration law. We are passionate about achieving good outcomes for our clients.