Visa problems for Africa visitors to the UK“Home Office data on visa refusals shows that African applicants are over twice as likely to be refused a UK visa than applicants from any other part of the world.”
On Tuesday July 16 2019 the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Africa (APPG) launched a report entitled ‘Visa problems for African Visitors to the UK’.The event was chaired by Chi Onwurah MP, chair of the APPG for Africa. Other panellists included Rt. Hon Caroline Mokes MP, Minister of immigration and Dr Robtel Neajai Pailey, Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the Oxford Department of International Development.
The report included several case studies from individuals impacted by these refusals and made the following observations:
- Practical and logistical barriers: several African countries’ visa applications as well as interviews can only be done in a neighbouring country;
- Inconsistent and/or careless decision-making: Evidence was presented of apparently irrational decisions that overlooked some of the information provided with a visa application, divergent decisions taken in effectively identical cases, and different decisions taken when an identical re-application was made;
- Perceived lack of procedural fairness: In many cases additional documentation and evidence is requested over and above that specified in the guidelines;
- 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.
Dr. Pailey has applied for a UK visa from Ghana and USA on different occasions, and highlighted the contrasting experience of the two visa applications. She said “I believe that my contrasting experience applying from the US and from Africa, having heard similar stories from other African colleagues and friends, demonstrates discrimination against those applying from the continent.”
African visa refusals affect many researchers and families. The room was filled with many people with various stories, from organisers of the Edinburgh fringe festivals to people who had been refused visas for weddings, inaugurations and to visit terminally ill relatives.
The report makes the following recommendations to improve the application process:
- Expedited application processes for those applicants who currently have to travel to a neighbouring country to apply and/or be interviewed for a visa (low cost);
- Clearer information to visa applicants on visa application processes and requirements, especially in terms of supporting documents that must be submitted by the applicant (low cost);
- Where decision-making is fully digitised, ensure documents are scanned in the country of application (medium cost);
- More visa application centres in countries where they are not currently sited (higher cost).
You can download the full report here. APPG Report on Visa problems for African visitors to the UK_v1.57