Africans are more than twice as likely to be denied a UK visa as applicants from any other parts of the world, a new study indicates.
The study conducted by All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPG) for Africa found out that the current UK visa system is not fit for purpose, is inaccessible to many Africans, under-resourced, unaccountable and widely perceived as discriminating against Africans.
“The UK has good relations with most African countries, but it needs to be recognized that no single issue does more damage to the image or influence of the UK in Africa than this visa question,” noted the report.
The use of a centralized application system that requires many African applicants to travel hundreds, even thousands of miles simply to apply for a visa was identified as one of the main barriers to the UK visa issuance to Africans.
The research team under the leadership of Chinyelu Susan Onwurah, a member of the British Labor Party, further noted the presence of weak quality control and lack of oversight leading to erroneous, careless and sometimes offensive decisions. There was also a perceived lack of procedural fairness against Africans.
“In many cases, additional documentation and evidence is requested over and above that specified in the guidelines, but even then some decisions seem to be arbitrary and illogical,” the team noted.
The study also identified financial discrimination in decision-making as another barrier, with many applications being rejected because the applicant has no enough money, even when all costs have been guaranteed by a sponsoring third party.
Above all, the team established there was no right of appeal and a huge fee was required for re-application to correct a mistaken decision.
“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, patronizing and insulting to African applicants and leaves the slogan of “Global Britain” empty and meaningless,” noted Ms. Onwurah, who is the MP for Newcastle.
The team recommended for a review of UK visa issuance rules in a bid to ease access for African applicants to salvage British business, academia, arts and culture which are said to have been hard hit by the ‘bias’.