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What to do about Home Office delay – two recent cases offer hope

Date posted: 27 July 2020

James Elliott, our head of Public Law writes about how to get the Home Office to make a decision on your application and to obtain compensation if they took too long.


The Home Office always seem to take a long time to decide applications. Sometimes they take too long. What can you do?


There are unfortunately very few legal time limits for the Home Office. It should decide applications for an EEA residence permit within 6 months.  The Home Office is supposed to make a decision on an asylum claim within the same time and if it cannot should write and tell you why.  This does not mean that the Home Office can take an indefinite time particularly if the delay is causing you prejudice such as: –


  1. Not being able to start work or study
  2. Losing a job
  3. Being unable to travel to see sick family members
  4. Is damaging your health.


In these circumstances you may be able to challenge the delay by way of a judicial review.  To do this you must write a pre-action letter setting out why you believe the delays are unlawful. The Home Office has 14 days to reply and in some cases this letter may get things moving. If there is no reply or no promise to make a decision within a reasonable time you can bring a case in the courts.


Getting a decision is great but it may not be enough if you have suffered financial or emotional losses as a result of the delay.  In two cases this year courts in both the UK (Husson v the Home Office) and Europe (Keita v Hungary) have held that you might be entitled to compensation for delays in your immigration status being resolved.


Our Public Law and Immigration teams have a wealth of experience in both getting timely decisions for our clients and can advise on judicial review and compensation claims.


If you are affected any of the issues discussed above, please contact us for advice. Our Public Law team is available on 020 8808 7535 or