A repeal of the law on 20th November 2015, extended the Ministry's powers to instruct UNE. The Ministry can now give general instructions on interpretation of the law and exercise of discretion. The amended law will be evaluated in the course of two years and be terminated on January 1st 2018.
The appeals UNE handles include; protection (asylum) , family migration, residence permits, deportation and citizenship.
UNE has a staff of over three hundred and fifty, of whom approximately 30 are Board Leaders qualified as judges. In addition, approx.300 lay persons have volunteered to serve as ad hoc appeals board members.
UNE has more than one method to reach its decisions. Decisions can be reached at appeals board hearings with the appellant present, at appeals board hearings without the appellant, by a board leader following preparation by the legal secretariat or by the legal secretariat. A board leader decides the processing method for each case.
According to the Immigration Act, cases without material questions of doubt may be decided without an appeals board hearing, either by a board leader or by the legal secretariat. These may, for example, be cases governed by a regulation in which it is easily determined whether specific requirements of laws and regulations have been met. In case where there are material questions of doubt, will be primarily determined through a board hearing.
Most appeals board hearings are held with the appellant present. However, appeals board hearings are also held without the appellant. If, for example, the appellant and UDI are in agreement about the facts of the case, i.e. the appellant’s explanation has already been taken into account before the case being transferred to UNE, , the appeals board can hold a hearing and decide the case without the appellant. However, personal attendance is crucial in cases where the appellant is able to help provide necessary clarification.
Appeals board hearings are attended by a Board Leader and by two lay board members. UNE's legal secretariat prepares cases to be handled by the appeals board. The board leader submits case documents to other board members prior to the hearing. Hearings take place behind closed doors..
Board hearings begin with a brief presentation of the case by the Board Leader, introduction of those present and exhorts the appellant. During the hearing, the appellant will answer questions from the board and his/her lawyer (representative). The representative is givenan opportunity to sum up the case. Cases handled at appeals board hearings are decided by a majority vote.
Decisions made in individual cases can't be reviewed by the Ministry, Government or UNE's administration, but can be appealed through the regular judicial system.