Citizens Advice is asking government ministers to review the rising rate of family visitor visa application refusals so as to ensure that injustice is not being done to members of the UK’s Black and Minority Ethnic communities.
According to its analysis of statistics provided by the government agency UK visas of decisions being made by entry clearance officers in relation to family visitor visa applications since October 2000:
- The global rate of refusal has risen steadily since 2000 with stepped increases in September 2001 and August 2002.
- The family visitor refusal rate is now much higher than for non-settlement visas generally.
- Ministers have yet to offer an adequate explanation for the increase and have failed to ‘demonstrate any concern about the increase and its undoubted detrimental impact on the family life of the UK’s ethnic minorities’.
In Mumbai (India), for example, the refusal rate from August 2002-January 2033 was 32.3% – double that of the preceding six-month period. In Dhaka (Bangladesh), the refusal rate in September 2002 was 84.4% – almost three times the global average. In Tehran (Iran), the refusal rate was 24.2% between August 2002 and March 2003, double the rate for the corresponding period the year before and four times the refusal rate in mid-2001. In Lagos (Nigeria), the rate for May-September 2003 was 38.3%, which is more than four times the refusal rate in 2001 over the same period. And in Accra (Ghana) in November 2001, the refusal rate was 87.3 % – more than three times the global average for that month.
In February 2003 Citizens Advice first raised with government ministers the issue of a rising refusal rate of family visitor visas. They attributed the rise to the move away from a pre-assessment procedure for applicants. But, according to research by Citizens Advice, this is not borne out by the figures.