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Are Unfair Visa Refusals Undermining the Home Office? | Immigration Matters

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Charles Kelly outside Taylor House

Obtaining a Work Permit for a much needed overseas worker is not easy, as many of you who have dealt with the Home Office are aware. Caseworkers at Sheffield based ‘Work Permits UK’ rigorously check every document and reference to ensure the person is qualified to do the job.

Employers are thoroughly scrutinised and must submit evidence of trading and proof they are a legitimate organisation. The job itself must meet strict Home Office criteria and in most cases a genuine vacancy – which cannot be filled from within the EU work force – must exist.

By the time an employer and applicant finally receive the much coveted Work Permit they would have jumped through more hoops than a performing acrobat.

Why then, can an Entry Clearance Officer in a far flung British Consulate just throw out an application after a five minute interview?

Entry Clearance Officers (ECO’s) in places like India, Nigeria or The Philippines refuse thousands of applications each year for entry to the UK to take up jobs for which Work Permits have been issued.

Figures, published by Hansard, show that, from April 2004 to April 2005, 483,000 visa applications were refused.

Around 25% of refusals which go to appeal are successfully overturned, indicating that a staggering number of the decisions are incorrect and unfair. Many adverse decisions are overturned locally before going to a full appeal. Sheffield University reports that over 90% of their student’s refusals are overturned on reconsideration or full appeal.

The right to appeal against entry clearance refusals will largely be removed under provisions in the 2006 Immigration and Nationality Act, giving ECO’s even more power and less accountability.

Everyone Loses

Employers, applicants, and ultimately the UK, lose out when an ECO vetos the Home Office. The employer loses a qualified member of staff, the applicant loses a job and the country loses the valuable skills and energy of someone who could contribute to our economy. According to Home Office figures, legal migrants contribute 2.5 billion to the UK economy.

Employers in the care industry who cannot fill vacancies are often forced to resort to expensive agency staff or face the threat of closure by the CSCI.

My own specialist legal team has successfully appealed on a number of entry clearance refusals. Typical reasons for declining a visa, as in one of our recent cases, include statements from ECO’s such as: “I do not consider that on the balance of probabilities you (the candidate) are capable of carrying out the job as stated on the work permit”.

In another case received this morning from India, two Senior Carer Work Permit holders, both qualified Nurses, were refused visas because the ECO felt that the duties of the job were not at a sufficiently senior level. This clearly undermines the Home Office decision to issue the Work Permit in the first place.

Last week we won an appeal for a Filipino candidate called Erica. The ECO claimed her work reference was false and refused entry clearance. Knowing this was not the case, we lodged an immediate appeal.

Astonishingly, when the evidence bundle was submitted to the court by the Embassy it was found that her reference had actually been verified by Embassy staff and marked on their own file as “OK”. Immigration Judge Buckwell, at London‘s Taylor House, took the unusual step of allowing the appeal on the spot.

The eminent Judge then went on to treat us to the following interesting but disturbing anecdote:

“During an observation trip to an overseas diplomatic post, I was told by an Entry Clearance Officer that, when they receive an appeal decision [which goes against their refusal decision], they just ignore it”!

After the laughter in the courtroom had subsided, the Judge continued:

“Needless to say, this particular person is no longer in his job, following my recommendation”.

We now know why it is so difficult to obtain a visa even after winning an appeal, as in the case of “Danny’s Visa Appeal” see

Universities, which depend on fees from overseas students, are also suffering because of visa refusals. Foreign students contribute £4 billion to the UK‘s ‘educational export’ and Universities and Colleges are justifiably concerned that over zealous Embassy staff are driving them away.

I can cite numerous other examples of visa applicants who have been rejected for a variety of reasons, mostly subjective, following a short interview.

The care industry would not survive without overseas staff. The UK needs skilled foreign workers and students to maintain a thriving economy. Should we not be welcoming these people rather than giving them a hard time?

For regular immigration updates see

For further information on appeals see

If you should have any questions or views you would like to express concerning Work Permit, Visa Extensions, Leave to Remain please email Charles Kelly

I will be speaking on: “Are You Employing Staff Illegally?” at:

The Care Show (NEC 25th October 2006)

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