Visit visas: Keeping the issues on the agenda

Tuesday, 12 November 2019
Author: 
Henrietta Bailey-Morgan (Policy & Advocacy Coordinator)

The APPG Africa report on Visa problems for African visitors to the UK was launched in the House of Commons in July. Before parliament was dissolved, the APPG for Africa together with the Royal African Society renewed calls for the submission of recent case studies. Having additional and new examples is essential to help demonstrate the ongoing and systemic nature of the problems previously identified which is paramount to keeping it on the political agenda.

At the launch, Patrick Grady MP presented the report’s findings and the then Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes MP responded. Caroline Nokes thanked the APPGs for shining a light on the problems and for the detail of the report’s analysis and committed for her office to provide a formal written response. She commented positively on the report’s impact since the launching of this inquiry, I have noticed a real willingness from officials within the Home Office and from individual decision makers to try to understand the visa issues within the report and to make better decisions.”  John Vine, the former Independent Chief Inspector for Borders and Immigration highlighted the problems identified have been present for years but in the absence of political will and public pressure, reforms aren’t implemented. Dr Robtel Pailey also spoke on the panel reflecting on her personal perspective of applying for visit visas. The event was oversubscribed with at least 100 guests attending and many joining in with the debate. A full memo of the launch is available here.

In September and October the APPG met with Andrew Stephenson MP, the now former Minister for Africa and Emma Wade-Smith, the UK Trade Commissioner to Africa both of whom recognised the problems and sympathised with the report’s recommendations. The APPG renewed our request for a meeting with the Home Affairs Select Committee and the then new Minister for Immigration, Seema Kennedy MP. We will continue to pursue a meeting with the next Immigration Minister when a new Government is formed. To highlight the gravity of visa refusals for wider UK-Africa relations, the APPG also submitted written evidence the House of Lords International Relations Committee and the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee (see submission here) for their parallel inquiries on HMG policy approach to Africa. In addition, the Royal African Society, which provides the secretariat to the APPG for Africa, is in contact directly with UK Visas and Immigration to discuss the problems highlighted in the report and potential remedies.

At the report launch, Patrick Grady MP appealed for further submissions of case studies- “increasing the evidence base increases the pressure on the Ministers.” As such, we are renewing calls for those that continue to experience unfair visa refusals to share details with the inquiry.

Please send case details to baileyh@parliament.uk and see guidelines on what information to include regarding the application below:

  • Full name, address and contact details and case number of the applicant
  • The date and location of the application for a visit visa
  • As much information as possible surrounding any visit visa refusal- including the reason for the visit and details of supporting documents included etc.
  • Any reasons provided by UKVI orally or in writing for the refusal.
  • A statement from the applicant that they agree to details of their case to be: a) published in an open online appendix as further evidence and b) shared with the Home Office to demonstrate ongoing problems. If they would prefer the details to be anonymised, please state this.

After the December General Election, we would urge you to consider writing to your Member of Parliament about your case (and copy us in) and ask them to support the findings of our report. You can find details of your newly elected MP here after the election.

Photo source: https://hotels.ng/guides/visa/uk-visa-apply/