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Critical reports published on Amman and Istanbul


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John Vine

The Chief Inspector of UKBA has today published critical reports of the entry clearance operations at Amman in Jordan and Istanbul in Turkey. Click here for press release, here for the report on Amman and here for the report on Istanbul.

In Amman, 55% of all cases were found to be failing one or more decision making quality indicators, applicants were found to be refused on the basis of failing to provide evidence they were not asked for and were given no opportunity to provide, documents were declared to be false when in fact they were genuine, supporting documents were not retained on case files and the case notes by ECOs were basically indecipherable, making it impossible on a review to understand why a visa had been granted or refused. John Vine is quoted as saying

‘My case file review identified serious concerns about the quality, consistency and fairness of decision making across all categories of visa applications considered in Amman. Additionally, I found it almost impossible to understand some of the reasons for Entry Clearance Officers’ decisions to issue or refuse applications.’

It is difficult to imagine anything much more damning than that. It is clear that the operation is Amman is indefensible. I have to say that I was quite surprised by this as Amman is low down my personal list of appalling entry clearance posts. This perhaps says a lot about the others.

In Istanbul key evidence was found to be overlooked by the ECO in around 25% of all cases, around 33% of cases were refused on the basis of evidence that was not requested of applicants, Entry Clearance Manager reviews were, not to put too fine a point on it, found to be worthless, and supporting documents were not retained on case files, making it very difficult to review cases (and causing all sorts of problems in the event of an appeal, it might be added). There was also some positive news about the Istanbul operation, but it was mainly around improvement processes that might hopefully in future lead to better quality decision making, as opposed to good news in the here and now.

These reports add to other previous critical reports of UK entry clearance operations abroad. Themes emerging from the growing body of OCIUKBA reports include refusal on the basis of evidence that was not requested, poor quality decision making both in granting and refusing visas, poor quality ECM reviews and lack of concern over appeals against these decisions being allowed.

People are paying a LOT of money to have their cases treated in a cavalier and frankly disrespectful way by ECOs, they are getting very poor decisions and, under current proposals, a further fee will have to be paid to get the decision overturned, as well as all the legal fees, with no possibility of having costs awarded against the Entry Clearance Post responsible.

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Free Movement

The Free Movement blog was founded in 2007 by Colin Yeo, a barrister at Garden Court Chambers specialising in immigration law. The blog provides updates and commentary on immigration and asylum law by a variety of authors.


5 Responses

  1. To what degree is the CI just a fig leaf to appease those who complain about UKBA’s systematic disregard of the law?

    Equivalently, what real-world impact have the reports had so far?

  2. I had to suppress a few giggles reading through the report especially where “low risk” was given as the reason for granting entry clearance. But seriously the inconsistencies raise issues of transparency and we can only read between the lines and wonder…

  3. With about 50% of cases in Instanbul, and 55% of cases in Amman, being defective in some way,
    then the same level of service could be acheived by employing some-one to decide on the basis of flipping a coin.

    Another example of “absolute power corrupting absolutely”.
    Document loss or/and shredding has been suspected for years at many posts. (“File it in B One N”.)

    “Your altitude is governed by your attitude” – given the very low altitude of performance, I bet I can guess what the attitude of ECOs and ECMs is like at these visa posts.

  4. John Vine is critical of some of the decisions made by ECMs/ECOs who appear to consider “low risk” as a factor when making decisions.

    Consider this alongside the recent Damian Green authorisation under paragraph 17(4)(a) of Schedule 2 to the Equality Act 2010 (replacing the Race Relations (Immigration and Asylum) Authorisation 2004) which gives the minister the authority to discriminate between people of different nationalities. People can be asked for additional evidence and have additional screening before entry clearance is issued or at a UK airport when they are seeking entry/re-entry to the UK. The “list of nationalities approved personally by the Minister” will be mainly based on the levels of abuse in particular countries and also on intelligence received by UKBA.

    The thresholds set out are very low – a country can be blacklisted if in at least 1 of the last 3 months the total number of refusals exceeds 150 + the refusal rate for the nationality is more than 5%. Compare this against the overall refusal rate for all entry clearance applications in 2009 for the following countries: Bangladesh 24%, India 16% and China 9%.

  5. Abu Dhabi don’t bother to read, they dont bother to check documents and they copy and paste refusals. I saw one deciosn where someone even included an index of documents with the visa application form but he was refused for not providing these documents. I always wonder why ECOs can not be sacked or why their performance can not be checked. This is not a joke. This is a question of families. I pray the same ECO applies somewhere to join his family and gets the same man of his type. Then he would know how it feels.