A report published today by the Independent Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency represents the poorest performance seen in a UK Border Agency business area to date.
The report “An inspection of the UK Visa Section: Pakistan settlement applications” is the first of three inspection reports which will form a comprehensive assessment of the entry clearance operation in the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. The inspection of the UK Visa Section examined the UK Border Agency’s handling of Pakistan settlement applications including cases both granted and refused entry clearance.
Independent Chief Inspector, John Vine CBE QPM found that the service provided to customers at the UK Visa Section was extremely poor, with a significant number of cases sampled not being decided correctly. In some cases it was almost impossible to determine why visas had been issued, when others had been refused on identical or very similar evidence. In the worst cases, the Independent Chief Inspector found that visas that should have been refused were granted and visas that should have been granted were refused.
The Independent Chief Inspector also noted that significant weaknesses were found around processes to deter, prevent and detect fraudulent applications for settlement, with entry clearance staff receiving insufficient training to meet the demands of countering fraud, risk profiles not being used to support the decision making process which meant that fraud was not being targeted and very limited verification activity to support the decision making process.
Mr Vine said, “I believe the poor level of customer service provided to Pakistan settlement customers has damaged the reputation of the UK Border Agency. It will need to work hard to restore faith in the services it provides to customers in Pakistan and their sponsors in the UK, while at the same time, demonstrating the seriousness it attaches to protecting the UK border. In my view, the UK Border Agency has, in this area, failed to fully meet its key strategic objectives of protecting the UK border and making fast and fair decisions.”
The Independent Chief Inspector’s full report “An inspection of the UK Visa Section: Pakistan Settlement Applications” can be viewed at www.independent.gov.uk/icinspector/news