Session 2008-09, 12 January 2009

Publication of Report


In a report released today, Monday 12 January 2009, the Commons Home Affairs Committee says the role of Independent Monitor of the UK Border Agency's entry clearance refusals must be maintained, saying there must be no hiatus in the oversight of visa refusals.

In a short report the Committee says the Independent Monitor has raised important concerns about the training of UK Border Agency Border staff and the entry clearance process, and it is important that the role not be scrapped until the new UK Border Agency Inspectorate is fully up and running and able to scrutinise decisions in the same detail that the Independent Monitor currently does.

The Independent Monitor has said that the quality of visa decisions by UK Border Agency staff is "reasonable, and very slowly improving", but has also raised concerns, echoing Committee members own constituency experience, that visa refusals are often overly long and unintelligible. She has also expressed the concern that the higher level of administration required in issuing a visa refusal creates a "perverse incentive" to issue visa clearances.

Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP, Chairman of the Committee, said: "The Independent Monitor has been doing important work overseeing the entry clearance process and the fact that some of the concerns and recommendations regarding the visa clearance system remain unaddressed indicates to us that there must be no gap in the scrutiny of this process. We strongly urge the Government to ensure that the Independent Monitor remains until the new inspectorate is fully up and running. To abolish her post without a fully resourced replacement would mean less scrutiny of the government in this crucial area of work. "