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Africans most likely to be denied UK visas

African visitors to the UK are twice as likely to be denied a visa than applicants from other parts of the world according to a cross-party inquiry.

Research by the all-party parliamentary group for Africa found that in the two years to September 2018, over a quarter of African visa requests were rejected compared with a total average refusal rate of just 12%.

The figures raise fresh concerns around discrimination in the UK’s immigration procedures, with British MPs claiming that the system is “broken” and causing “severe damage” to relations between the UK and Africa.

Valid reasons rejected

The rate of 27% of African visa rejections was more than double that of the 11% for Middle Eastern and Asian applicants and dwarfs the 4% rejected from those coming from North America.

The report goes further to suggest that many of those people rejected were visiting the UK with entirely valid reasons to do so, such as to study, do business, or take part in academic and cultural exchanges. The absence of any automatic right to appeal left many with expensive re-application costs.

The inquiry unearthed several cases of experienced and qualified professionals having doubt cast as to their authenticity and criticised border staff for “questionable and sometimes offensive reasons” for refusing applications.

Perceived racial bias

The study unearthed a belief among some that there were underlying reasons relating to racial discrimination behind their visa application being rejected.

Nanjala Nyabola, a Kenyan academic and author, told the Financial Times that the principle of visa applications had changed from the notion of promoting an exchange of people, skills, cultures and ideas to one of “shutting people out”.

The report also highlighted concern around the Home Office’s use of a red, amber, and green risk grading system for applications generated by an algorithm. The chief inspector of borders was quoted in the evidence as highlighting the screening tool “could mean that decisions were not being made on the merits of the individual case but on a set of generalised and detached indicators.”


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