The Home Office has once again come under a barrage of criticism for ingrained discrimination in the immigration process after a new study revealed Africans are rejected UK visas at a far higher rate than everyone else.
The study, commissioned by The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Africa, found that whilst the overall refusal rate for visas to the UK stands at a modest 12%, the number jumps to an intolerable 27% when considering applications coming from Africa alone.
That number pales in comparison to the refusal rates for people from other continents – 11% for Middle Eastern and Asian applicants and 4% for North Americans.
According to the APPG, the unusually high rejection rate for African applicants raises serious questions about ingrained discrimination in the immigration process.
The research cited a lack of quality control as one of the biggest issues plaguing the process, leading to officials taking “erroneous, careless and sometimes offensive” decisions. Some perceive racial discrimination underlining some of those decisions.
With the difficulties in accessing appeals for rejected applicants, it means people with legitimate reasons to visit the UK – for business or to partake in cultural or academic exchanges – are being turned away with little room for redress.
Chi Onwurah MP, chair of APPG, said the issue was causing severe harm to the UK’s relations with numerous African countries, which is dangerous at a time the UK needs to show it’s open for business.
“As well as our relations, it damages our economy and society. It is embarrassing, patronising and insulting to African applicants and leaves the slogan of ‘Global Britain’ empty and meaningless,” Chi said.
In reaction to the report, a Home Office spokesperson said: “The UK welcomes all genuine visitors from Africa and wants its visa system to support our important and increasing business and trade ties with the continent.”
“Visa applications from African nationals are at their highest level since 2013 and decision-makers do not discriminate on the basis of age, gender, religion or race.
“We remain committed to getting visa decisions right the first time, every time.” the spokesperson added.
Quizzed about the report in Parliament, the Prime Minister, Theresa May, pointed to a 4% increase in the number of African visas granted over the last 10 years as evidence refuting its findings.
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