UK visa move to affect Indian relatives

UK is to scrap the right of appeal for relatives of British Asian families.

Updated: May 10, 2011, 21:09 PM IST

London: Britain is considering scrapping
of the right of appeal for relatives of British Asian
families, who are refused visas to visit them each year, a
controversial move likely to impact thousands of Indians, a
media report said Tuesday.

Quoting a leaked Home Office policy paper, the
Guardian newspaper reported that officials have been warned
that the move is highly controversial, particularly within the
Asian communities and legally risky.

Home Office ministers have been told they need to
"warm up colleagues in government for these potentially
controversial changes", starting with Conservative party
co-chairman Baroness Warsi, the only British Pakistani in the
coalition government.

Immigration minister Damian Green has been warned to
expect protests from "some Commonwealth countries", implying
the move could trigger a renewed row with India and Pakistan
in the wake of the recent controversy over the cap on
immigration.

More than 420,000 visa applications were made for
temporary visits by close relatives of British families in
2010, at a cost of more than 70 pounds each.

Of the decisions made last year, 350,000 family visit
visas were granted, 88,000 were turned down.

More than 63,000 of those who were refused, appealed
against the decision and around 36 per cent were allowed to
come to Britain on appeal.

The paper - written for Green by the UK Border
Agency`s (UKBA) director of appeals and removals, Phil Douglas, n says the move is a "crucial part of plans to reduce the
number of appeals and resultant cost to the taxpayer".

He says family visit visas are the only visit visa
decisions taken by entry clearance officers abroad that still
attract a full right of appeal.

"We can expect this move to be controversial in
particular with some Commonwealth countries and UK communities
with families overseas and in previous advice we recommend
warming up colleagues in government for these potentially
controversial changes, starting with a conversation with
Baroness Warsi," said Douglas.

Immigration welfare groups have condemned the move as
"discriminatory and mean" and said such visits often involved
weddings, funerals and visits to dying relatives.

Habib Rahman, chief executive of the Joint Council for
the Welfare of Immigrants, said: "There is an entirely
justifiable expectation of British and settled people to be
able to welcome family visitors.

The fact that 36 per cent of appeals are successful
demonstrates the paucity of decision-making in this area.

"If a refusal for someone to attend a wedding, a
funeral, to visit a dying relative or to be with their loved
ones for short periods is refused, the right to an appeal is
the only fair way to settle such a matter," Rahman said.

He said this idea "is discriminatory and mean and
should be abandoned before it gets any further".
The move echoes the robust approach expected later
this year when ministers unveil plans to curb the number of
family members coming to settle in Britain as part of the push
to cut net migration to the "tens of thousands".

PTI

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