UKBA land another worrying report

Post by Josh Reid. Josh is currently an intern  with JCWI in the communications department

A recent report by the Independent Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency (UKBA) into entry clearance decision-making was published on the 19th December, and is available, along with UKBA’s response, on the website. This global review examined a sample of cases with a limited right of appeal (short-term visits), and the findings paint a worrying picture of the UKBA’s decision-making operation.

Unfair policy

The most damaging finding relates to cases where an application was refused for failing to provide information which was not set out in published guidance. This was evident in 16% of all sampled cases.

Some applicants were refused as a result of failing to demonstrate a subsisting relationship with a UK sponsor, despite this being neither a requirement for general visitors under the Immigration Rules nor cited in the visitor guidance published by the UKBA.

Obviously this is grossly unfair, as applicants are not informed of requirements before they apply, and are not currently given any opportunity to provide the extra evidence once they are informed. Asking for documentation that is not specified in the rules significantly undermines the principle of the rule of law.

The review recommends that where applicants have followed published guidance but more information is required by Entry Clearance Officers, applicants are given a chance to meet the higher burden of evidence. In response, UKBA accepted the recommendation but stated it reflected current policy and guidance.

Poor decision-making

A second key area of concern relates to the quality of the decision-making; errors were found in over a third of all the cases sampled. These included failures to consider relevant positive evidence submitted by applicants, of which 84 cases were incorrectly issued a refusal notice stating evidence to support particular requirements was not provided, despite the review finding clearly that the correct evidence had been submitted.

As a result the basis of these decisions had been undermined by these particular errors. A further 6% of the sample contained misinterpretation of supporting evidence by the Entry Clearance Officer which had a negative impact upon the application, leading to inconsistencies and unfair decision-making.

One alarming example identified by the Inspector concerned an application which was refused because the Entry Clearance Officer had doubts over the credibility of the applicant. Entry was refused as the Officer stated it was biologically impossible for the applicant’s two children to be born two months apart, which had ignored the clear information provided by the applicant that one of the children was a stepdaughter.

Information given to applicants about their right to appeal was also highlighted. In short applicants were given a limited right of appeal, when they should instead have been granted a full right of appeal! This was apparrent in 32% of the ‘out of scope cases’ and 2 % of the file sample in question

Entry Clearance Managers also come under fire in the report, with significant concerns raised about internal reviews failing to pick up clear errors in decision-making.

Over a third of sampled cases which were internally reviewed overlooked poor quality decision-making, 34 of which contained errors which appeared to undermine the basis of the refusal of clearance. The Inspector recognised this worrying lack of attention to detail even amongst managers, and has recommended a strengthening in quality assurance, to which UKBA has responded by stating it is currently reassessing its internal reviews.

Missing documents

A further area  identified as a shortcoming relates to the  insufficient retention of supporting documentation provided by applicants. This was a major problem in 14% of cases sampled by the Inspector as it made it virtually impossible to assess whether the decision was appropriately considered.

As recognised by the review, these oversights are detrimental to audit processes and public confidence in the system, yet UKBA had previously received several reminders and recommendations from the Independent Monitor and Independent Chief Inspector that copies of all supporting evidence should be maintained. UKBA have cited a lack of secure storage space by way of explanation, and have promised improvements with electronic storage of documentation in response to the report’s recommendation.

It is unclear how effectively UKBA will meet the all the recommendations carried in the report, but it is evident that immediate changes are essential to salvaging a fair and effective decision-making process.

About jcwi

Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants is a key campaigning voice in the field of immigration, asylum and nationality law and policy. It is completely independent from government funding, remaining entirely free from government influence. View all posts by jcwi

5 responses to “UKBA land another worrying report

  • sufak

    I know only too well the mismanagement by UKBA. My Nigerian husband got refused a visit to me for 2 very stupid reasons; he is a student(not against UKBA rules)and relies mainly on family sponsorship money to fund his short visit to me; and the fact he has no children back home in Nigeria to go back to!! WTF.Entry clearance obviously make up their own rules as they see fit. Needless to say,we have made an appeal but they have already ruined our lives by not allowing him to come to my son’s wedding or letting us spend our 1st xmas together as husband and wife.Also,the unnecessary expense and stress caused by having to appeal what was obviously a wrong decision in the first place.UK is racist–there is no doubt about that.

  • Chris Mead

    Your points on unfair policy happened almost exactly as described to my wife and I entering the UK from Germany (she is an NZ national and I a British citizen). She is currently on an EEA Family permit for 6 months waiting for an EEA2 decision.

    I’m delighted that this had been properly highlighted at last. It is a stifling and belittling experience to be rejected for reasons you cannot account for in advance – a de facto tragedy for family immigration especially since it constitutes a silent human rights violation. All too often people simply reapply having been through the ordeal rather than bringing it to an immigration tribunal 9 months after the incident. No body has the money or time to wait for nine months to appeal. Had we have been asked to provide evidence of our relationship this would have been amply provided – instead we were treated like criminals under suspicion.
    It’s an extremely undermining experience for British citizens, European citizens and non-EU spouses alike.

    I am preparing to launch a blog in the new year to catalogue the experiences of sponsors and their spouses in family immigration, starting with my own. If anybody has gone through a similar experience, I would sincerely like to publicise their story (anonymously if preferred) to raise the profile of the people impacted by family immigration restrictions and proposals.

    • sufak

      I would be more than happy to take part in this because already i am feeling the stress of keeping a long distance bi-continental marriage working. Cracks are starting to appear and i will never forgive the dictatorial bureaucrats those cracks,because they have no God-given right to interfere in a God-given marriage….grr,it all makes me so angry…..

  • UKBA Rumpus « Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants

    […] failings- including the adequacy of training and supervision of enforced removals of migrants, and Vine’s earlier criticism of entry clearance decision-making- and so will be unsurprising for many who have been on the […]

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