Home Office issues apology to UK visa applicants forced to submit DNA samples
Home secretary Sajid Javid has issued an apology to immigrants that wrongly faced demands for DNA testing as part of their UK visa application. People that are looking to settle and find work in the UK on the strength of a family relationship can decide to submit DNA evidence to strengthen their application.
However, in June the home secretary informed the House of Commons that in a number of UK visa applications submission of supporting DNA evidence was made mandatory and not just a request.
Illegal demands for DNA samples
A recent Home Office investigation into visa applications revealed that over 449 demands for submission of DNA had been issued, including in 51 cases of former Gurkha soldiers.
It had previously been made public that 1,150 migrants from Afghanistan had been targeted with DNA testing when relocating to the UK. Of those, 700 were family members of people currently employed by the UK government.
A new government task force has been set up to respond to those that feel as though they had been wrongly required to submit DNA evidence to support their UK visa application. A more substantial review of the way the Home Office deals with UK visa applications has also been launched.
The home secretary has issued strict instructions to immigration officials that the submission of DNA evidence is not mandatory. The Home Office will also be seeking to reimburse any people that suffered any financial loss as a result of the scandal. There will also be an investigation into whether illegal demands for DNA had occurred in any other parts of the UK immigration process.
Operation Fugal scandal
Most of the cases that have been identified were part of Operation Fugal, a Home Office operation launched in 2016 to crack down on alleged cases of fraud in some human rights and family-based UK visa applications.
As part of the operation, around 400 letters were sent to applicants that incorrectly stated that submission of DNA evidence was mandatory. The letters stated that failure to submit DNA, without a satisfactory excuse, would result in the applicants UK visa application being rejected.
Of those applications, 83 were rejected with seven being denied due to the sole reason of failure to supply a DNA sample.