Report Launched: Visa Problems for African Visitors to the UK

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“Home Office data on visa refusals shows that African applicants are more than twice as likely to be refused a UK visa than applicants from any other part of the world.  The UK has good relations with most African countries, but it needs to be recognised that no single issue does more damage to the image or influence of the UK in Africa than this visa question.”

The report: ‘Visa Problems for African Visitors to the UK’ launched on 16th July 2019 in the House of Commons,  is the result of a joint investigation began in December 2018 by the All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPG) for Africa, APPG for Diaspora, Development and Migration and APPG for Malawi.

The report revealed that the UK visa system for is inaccessible to many Africans, under-resourced, unaccountable and widely perceived as biased or even discriminating against Africans.

Chi Onwurah MP, Chair of the APPG for Africa commented: “at a time when the UK needs to be ‘open for business’, the broken visas system is doing severe damage to UK-Africa relations across a variety of sectors. As well as our relations, it damages our economy and society. It is embarrassing, patronising and insulting to African applicants and leaves the slogan of “Global Britain” empty and meaningless.”

 The report identifies the real costs to British business, academia, arts and culture from the current dysfunctional system, and puts forward a series of achievable recommendations to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) to help them respond to concerns raised by the findings. These include the following:

  1. Expedited application processes for those applicants who currently have to travel to a neighbouring country to apply and/or be interviewed for a visa
     
  2. Clearer information to visa applicants on visa application processes and requirements, especially in terms of supporting documents that must be submitted by the applicant.
     
  3. Where decision-making is fully digitized, ensure documents are scanned in the country of application.
     
  4. Opening more Visa Application Centres (VACs) in countries where they are not currently sited. 

Comments and reflections from guests at the launch included shock, embarrassment and disappointment that recommendations made as far back as 2011 had not been implemented by the Home Office.

“Like the Windrush scandal, it has been shocking documenting the humiliating, expensive and painful experiences suffered by Africans wanting to visit the UK. We hope these recommendations will be quickly implemented and level playing field created for African visitors to the UK”, added AFFORD Executive Director, Onyekachi Wambu.

NOTES:

The report is a joint collaboration between:

  1. ‘Read and download the full Visa Problems for African Visitors to the UK report here https://afford-uk.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/APPG-Report-on-Visa-problems-for-African-visitors-to-the-UK.pdf
  2. The All Party Parliamentary Group for Africa (APPG-Africa) exists to facilitate mutually beneficial relationships between Africa and the UK and works to further understanding within UK parliament of contemporary African and Pan-African matters. The APPG-Africa creates space for parliamentarians to engage in dialogue with African diaspora, civil society, institutions, thought leaders and private sector to promote African led-development agendas and challenge negative stereotypes through positive relationships between the UK and African countries. And with a membership of over 200 parliamentarians from across-parties and houses, it is one of the largest and most active APPGs in UK parliament. The group is chaired by Chi Onwurah MP & Lord David Chidgey. The Royal African Society provide the secretariat. www.royalafricansociety.org/appg-africa | @AfricaAPPG
  3. All Party Parliamentary Group for Diaspora, Development & Migration (The APPG-DDM) aims to promote parliamentary and public understanding of the key issues affecting diaspora communities in the UK, and to expand and enhance their contributions to the international development agenda. APPG- DDM works to connect parliamentarians with diaspora organisations, academics and civil society groups to inform policy on how diaspora contributions can be harnessed for a greater impact, especially at a time when migration issues are surrounded by negative rhetoric. Chair of APP-DDM is Jeremey Lefroy, MP and Lord Hastings of Scarisbrick. AFFORD provides the secretariat for APPG-DDM. www.afford-uk.org
  4. The Malawi APPG exists to promote understanding and awareness among parliamentarians, positive relations between our countries, and provide a forum for discussion on relevant issues affecting politics, society, culture and the economy in Malawi. It brings together MPs and Peers from across the UK with a particular interest in UK-Malawi relations. Scotland Malawi partnership provides the secretariat for Malawi APPG. www.scotland-malawipartnership.org/get-involved/malawi-appg/

For enquires contact the AFFORD Communications Team on 020 3326 3750 or email info@afford-uk.org

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