In Baiai the House of Lords declared that the Certificate of Approval (COA) scheme was incompatible with article 8 of the ECHR as it disproportionately interfered with the fundamental right to marry.
From 31 July 2009 applicants granted COAs between 2005 and 2009 have able to apply to have their fee to be refunded. However, the UKBA required the said applicants to show that at the time of payment the fee caused real financial hardship to them. Furthermore, the UKBA’s advertised repayment scheme ended on 31 July 2010.
Thereafter, the agency has continued to accept some ad hoc applications for a refunds of the COA fees paid by applicants and the UKBA stated that it “accepted such applications in the interests of ensuring that all those who may have suffered real financial hardship as a result of the COA fee had an adequate opportunity to apply for a repayment. From 1 December, however, the UK Border Agency will no longer accept such applications.”
Ad hoc applications for repayment of the COA fee before the closure of the repayment scheme should use the Repayment of Certificate of Approval fee request form COAFR.
The agency advises that “all requests for repayment received by 30 November will be processed under the terms of the scheme” but “applications made after 30 November will not be accepted and will be returned without processing. There will be no further extensions to this scheme.”
It can be comfortably said that the COA will not be missed.