In a worrying development that many of us living in the diaspora will recognize, a new report shows Africans are more likely to be refused a UK visa than applicants from other parts of the world.
Published today (16 July 2019) by the All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPG) for Africa, for Malawi and for Diaspora, Development and Migration, the comprehensive Parliamentary report found the UK visit visa system was not currently fit for purpose, being inaccessible to many Africans, under resourced, unaccountable and widely perceived as biased or even discriminating against Africans.
“At a time when the UK needs to be ‘open for business’, the broken visas system is doing severe damage to UK-Africa relations across a variety of sectors. As well as our relations, it damages our economy and society. It is embarrassing, patronising and insulting to African applicants and leaves the slogan of “Global Britain” empty and meaningless.”
Chi Onwurah MP, Chair of the APPG for Africa summed up some of the stats in the report for us. She said: “Home Office data on visa refusals shows that African applicants are more than twice as likely to be refused a UK visa than applicants from any other part of the world. The UK has good relations with most African countries, but it needs to be recognised that no single issue does more damage to the image or influence of the UK in Africa than this visa question.”
She continued: “At a time when the UK needs to be ‘open for business’, the broken visas system is doing severe damage to UK-Africa relations across a variety of sectors. As well as our relations, it damages our economy and society. It is embarrassing, patronizing and insulting to African applicants and leaves the slogan of “Global Britain” empty and meaningless.”
Some of the challenges faced by African applicants applying for visas to the UK, sees them having to travel hundreds, even thousands of miles simply to apply for a visa. Other factors that contribute to the hardships include:
- Weak quality control and lack of oversight leading to erroneous, careless and sometimes offensive decisions.
- Perceived lack of procedural fairness: in many cases additional documentation and evidence is requested over and above that specified in the guidelines, but even then, some decisions seem to be arbitrary and illogical.
- Financial discrimination in decision-making: many applications are rejected because the applicant has little money, even though all costs have been guaranteed by a sponsoring third party.
The report identifies the real costs to British business, academia, arts and culture from the current dysfunctional system, and puts forward a series of achievable recommendations to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) to help them respond to concerns raised by the findings, including clearer information on application processes and requirements and more Visa Application Centres (VACs) in countries where they are not currently sited.
A copy of the full report is available here