The general quality of the UK Border Agency’s decision-making can and must be improved, said John Vine CBE QPM, the Independent Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency, publishing his global review of entry clearance decision-making.
The global review inspection took place between December 2010 and June 2011, and involved an examination of almost 1,500 visa cases from 84 visa decision-making posts worldwide.
At the time of inspection, the Chief Inspector was pleased to find that: the Agency was meeting its customer service targets in the vast majority of cases; there were examples where entry clearance officers had used their discretion to make additional checks in order to support their decision-making; more action was being taken to verify information that had been provided by applicants; and the quality of refusal notices was good and, in the majority of cases, refusal grounds were clearly communicated to applicants.
However, the Chief Inspector was concerned to find that: the overall quality of decision-making left considerable room for improvement; in a third of visa cases sampled, errors were found in the way evidence was assessed by entry clearance officers; visa case reviews undertaken by entry clearance managers were not always effective; and applicants were refused entry clearance for failing to provide information which they could not have been aware of at the time of submitting their applications.
John Vine, Independent Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency, said:
“I am pleased to report the findings of my global review of entry clearance decision-making, which involved an examination of almost 1,500 visa cases drawn from every UK Border Agency visa post.
“The inspection findings show a mixed picture. While it is encouraging to note that the Agency was meeting its customer service targets in the vast majority of cases, the general quality of decision-making can and must be improved.
“In 33% of the sample examined, I found errors in the way evidence was assessed by entry clearance officers. The Agency needs to strengthen its quality assurance process to ensure that decision quality is improved consistently across all of its visa posts.
“My recommendations in this report have all been made before, either by the previous Independent Monitor or by myself in previous reports, and are issues that will continue to emerge from future inspections unless they are properly addressed by the Agency.”