UK Government Has Agreed To Improve UK Visa Application System For African Applicants

UK Visa

The United Kingdom’s Minister for Future Borders and Immigration, Kevin Foster has responded to a 2019 report claiming that the UK visit visa system is not fit for purpose, being inaccessible to many Africans, under-resourced, unaccountable and widely perceived as biased or even discriminating against Africans.

The report, Visa Problems for African Visitors to the UK was the result of a 6-month inquiry led by Chi Onwurah MP and Patrick Grady MP with the AllParty Parliamentary Groups for Africa, Malawi and Diaspora supported by the Royal African Society with AFFORD, The Scotland Malawi Partnership and the African Studies Association UK.

It catalogued the regular challenges that African visitors face in obtaining visas to come to the UK, including vast practical and logistical barriers and inconsistent and biased decision making in UKVI (United Kingdom Visa and Immigration). The report proposed a number of improvements that could easily be made to improve the situation.

16 months later, the UKVI and the Minister have responded to the report and its proposals in considerable detail including commitments and changes which include:

> A commitment from the Minister to continued ‘constructive engagement’ with the APPGs and an invitation to submit further comments on the response, a helpful recognition that this issue cannot simply be parked.

> To amend guidance to visa officers to give greater weight to the fact that some visitors are sponsored by reputable British organisations inviting them to the UK for specific, sometimes high profile, events.

> The availability of digital applications has been expanded, including to Africa, to make it easier for those with the facilities to apply from home; and scanning facilities will be made available in all visa application centres (VACs).

> The cost of contacting VACs with queries or for information has been halved.

> UKVI are exploring ways of improving access to visas for those countries where there is currently no VAC, and are addressing the wider problem of delays in delivering visas in Africa.

> A firm commitment that quotas will not be applied to visas from any country or region.

> A commitment to making the visa application system ‘as simple and straightforward as possible.’

> A document checklist has been added to the UKVI website to help applicants ensure they have the right ones.

> UKVI is also seeking ways to ensure decision-making is more consistent, and ensuring that British High Commissions and Embassies are appropriately involved in the process.

This year, 2020, has obviously seen a drastic reduction in international travel of all kinds, and with it a fall in the demand for visas.  But as travel resumes, it is to be hoped that these improvements will significantly benefit the experience of African visitors to the UK.

Source: Royal African Society||

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