19 February 2009
Monitor says UKBA's visa refusals are still "long and unintelligible"
A report released this week by the Commons Home Affairs committee says although the Home Office has improved its quality of visa decisions, the system needs to keep its Independent Monitor to maintain its integrity.
The Committee said the independent monitor contracted to oversee and review the UK visa clearance system for UK Border Agency (UKBA) will have to remain its monitoring until the new UKBA Inspectorate is fully functioning.
The Independent Monitor, Linda Costelloe Baker, has said the UKBA has made improvements, albeit very slight, and that because of this the clearance system needs an overseer to make sure it stays on track and continue to improve the quality of the UK visa application decisions.
Currently, Costelloe Baker says the UKBA staff is "reasonable, and very slowly improving" but that refusals of UK visa applications are taking too "long and are unintelligible".
She also expressed concern that the UKBA staff are pre-disposed to approving entry to the UK because of the increased workload caused by visa refusals.
The chair of the Committee said Costelloe Baker's work is integral to the continuation of integrity and scrutiny in the Home Office visa clearance centre.
"The Independent Monitor has been doing important work overseeing the entry clearance process and the fact that some of the concerns and recommendations regarding the visa clearance system remain unaddressed indicates to us that there must be no gap in the scrutiny of this process," said Keith Vaz.
"We strongly urge the Government to ensure that the Independent Monitor remains until the new inspectorate is fully up and running. To abolish her post without a fully resourced replacement would mean less scrutiny of the government in this crucial area of work."
The UK Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in UK visa and immigration services.