05 November 2010

UK Visa system ‘may discriminate against Pakistanis’ says chief inspector

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The UK Border Agency may be discriminating against Pakistanis in the issuing of UK Visas, a report by an independent chief inspector found.

John Vine, who oversees the work of the UK Border Agency, found that its staff made it harder for people from Pakistan to enter Britain than from Gulf states such as Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Dubai but applying higher evidential requirements for a UK Visa.

"I believe this means that the UK Border Agency was not only failing to be open and transparent about their approach towards customers, but also may be discriminating unlawfully in favour of Gulf Co-operation Council customers and against Pakistanis," Mr Vine said.

The UK Border Agency should make immediate action to ensure it was not violating the race relations law, Mr Vine said.

Pakistan is the fourth largest source of applications for a UK Visa, however, increasing security concerns have meant that visa processing and decision making is done outside of the country.
Immigration minister Damian Green said the Government took a risk-based approach to decision-making and gave extra scrutiny to those countries where  fraud has historically been high.
Mr Green said the UK Government was working with Pakistan to stamp out visa abuse and changes, including a faster service for Pakistani businesses, have been introduced since the report was drawn up.

"The new government is committed to providing a first-class visa service to Pakistan," Mr Green said.

The UK Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with their  UK immigration applications to the British High Commission.

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