In a report by ABS-CBN’s UK correspondent Gene Alcantara, Peter Beckingham, British Ambassador to the Philippines, apologised to an audience of UK based Filipinos for the recent ‘visa fiasco’ at British Embassy Visa Section in Manila.
At event at the organised by Ambassador Espiritu at the Philippine Embassy in London, Peter Beckenham explained that the huge backlog occurred as a result of the explosion of NVQ student applications prior to the start of the new Points Based System on 31 March 2009.
Manila based Entry Clearance Manager Andy Battson added that the numbers of VAF student visa applications increased from 1,300 to 13,000 – a massive steep leap which, added to their new ‘Regional Hub’ role, has put considerable pressure on their resources.
The new Tier 4 rules are widely expected to improve the visa process, with the resources and staffing issues apparently soon be addressed by the UK Border Agency.
After the presentation I spoke with Andy Battson about the inconsistency of decisions made by Entry Clearance Officers (ECO’s).
Mr Battson, who had given up some of his own vacation time in London to ‘face the music’, defended his ECO’s adding that they were only human and doing the best job they could.
He acknowledged that Tier 4, of the points system, will take away much of the ECO’s decision making power.
Immigration Adviser Cynthia Barker asked Mr Battson about the Embassy’s VAC’s visa handling partner, VFS Global’s ’10 appointments a day’ policy, which has caused most of the anxiety felt by student applicants.
He said that the Embassy and VFS, acting on orders from the UK Border Agency, and had no option but to limit the numbers of NVQ student visa applicants, as this would have caused a backlog of other visa applications.
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