The Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, John Vine CBE QPM, has today published two reports on his findings after his inspections of a visa section in Dhaka, Bangladesh and Warsaw, Poland. The Chief Inspector found that although the Home Office was providing a good level of service to visa applicants in these areas, there were still problems with the decision making in a large number of cases inspected.
Home Office Inspection by UK Borders & Immigration Watchdog
The Borders and Immigration Watchdog provides independent scrutiny of the UK’s border and immigration functions with the aim of improving their efficiency and effectiveness. John Vine, conducted an investigation into a visa section in Dhaka from April-July 2013 and the Home Office’s handling of four separate visa categories; Family Visitor, Other Visitor, Settlement and Tier 4. He was disappointed to find that issues which had been previously reported in visa inspection reports were still being raised.
John Vine: Poor Quality of UK Visa Decision Making in Dhaka, Bangladesh
The report on the visa section in Dhaka revealed that the Home Office was not retaining relevant supporting documentation or recording clear grounds for visa application decisions. John Vine identified problems with half of the cases examined (166 out of 325 cases). He found that the quality of decision making was generally poor with refusal notices often containing unclear reasoning or demonstrating that the Entry Clearance Officer had misinterpreted positive evidence submitted by applicants. He was disappointed to find that these were problems which were identified in previous visa inspection reports and had still not been addressed.
John Vine stated:
“It is unacceptable that we continue to encounter the same issues, especially as the former Agency had issued updated guidance on a number of occasions in an attempt to rectify these failings.”
He also found that the Dhaka visa section was failing to meet its customer service targets in relation to settlement visa applications primarily due to the significant increase in settlement applications which occurred just prior to a change in the Immigration Rules in July 2012. This was also due to the fact that staff had difficulty in applying the guidance on the minimum income requirements
Standard of UK Visa Decision Making in Warsaw is a “Serious Concern”
John Vine’s report on the visa section in Warsaw, Poland found that although visa applications were processed in a timely manner, the decision to refuse the visa could not be maintained in 12% of cases in his file sample due to “serious flaws in the manner in which it had been taken”.
In a further 24% of the cases, it was found that there were issues with the quality of decision making indicating a lack of attention to detail on the part of the Entry Clearance Officer. This issue causes serious concern as applicants in this visa category have only a limited right of appeal against a refusal.