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Are tighter visa controls already in place?

By Grenville Mills

Are tighter Immigration Visa Controls already in place, pre-empting legislative change? The answer is a definitive YES. A recent decision by the British High Commission in Malaysia, which represents Visa Services for the UK Border Agency, demonstrates that tighter controls over Family Visit Visas have already been implemented. (UK plans scrapping right to visa appeals)

UK Border AgencyA case in which I am personally involved clearly contradicts a statement by Phil Douglas, UK Border Agency’s Director of Appeals and Removals. He was quoted by the Guardian newspaper as saying, ‘family visit visas are the only visit visa decisions taken by entry clearance officers abroad that still attract a full right of appeal’.

However, in my wife’s case, her Refusal of Entry Clearance (Family Visit Visa Application) by the British High Commission in Malaysia stated, ‘Your application does not attract a full right of appeal under section 82(1) of the Nationality Immigration and Asylum Act 2002’. So who’s right, the UK Border Agency’s Director or his overseas operatives?

I relayed my concerns to the High Commission, and asked them who was correct, Phil Douglas or themselves. They refused to respond, ignoring numerous requests to even acknowledge receipt of my concerns (communication with High Commissions and Visa Services are often frustratingly one way).

Anyone who has received a Refusal from Visa Services will be familiar with the expression ‘I am not satisfied on the balance of probabilities that you etc etc’. The balance of probabilities would seem to be heavily weighted towards the Government’s ‘proposed’ changes.

Has someone from Whitehall quietly instructed foreign missions to change the rules without even letting Phil know? Or are overseas Visa Service operatives unilaterally permiited to cherry pick from the Nationality Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 to suit a political agenda and/or their quota?

One final point of warning for anyone who enjoys visits to the UK from abroad, whether from a Commonwealth country or not, and who is considering appling for a Settlement Visa. This advisory would probably apply to any Visa request beyond a simple Visit Visa. Should the application be refused, the applicant’s passport will be stamped accordingly and they automatically loose their right of entry into the UK, even to visit. And that’s the rub – even to visit from then on.

Their original right of entry will be taken away as as penalty for appling for a more expansive (and expensive) Visa. What the UK Border Agency, or at the very least their Visa Service operation in Malaysia have introduced is a fearful game of Russian Roulette: spin the chamber for your desired Visa and Boom, you win or loose everything!

This is a cruel, unjust and in my humble opinion, outrageous outcome for anyone innocently applying for Settlement Visa status.

Yours sincerely
Grenville Mills