A tad sensationalist, I know, but true enough, you will find. The Chief Inspector of UKBA, John Vine, just published his report on the UKBA visa operation at Abuja. The findings are that the operation is poor:
- The ‘service’ represents poor value for money for customers. High fees are paid but refusal notices are repetitive, poorly written, unbalanced and poorly presented.
- The information available to potential visa applicants is confusing, can be inconsistent and needlessly has to be sourced from multiple websites. This leads to unnecessary refusals.
- The quality of information recording was found to be very poor indeed. The inspectors attempted to look at a sample of 100 files but by the time incorrectly referenced and lost files were eliminated, there were only 64 files in the sample.
- The quality of decision making was found to be poor on all the measures used. 11% of cases showed ‘wholly unreasonable’ judgment by ECOs and 31% of the sample were deficient in some way.
- Entry Clearance Manager oversight was inadequate, as was complaint handling. There is therefore little or no feedback to ECOs to improve standards.
The report is written in a very balanced and impartial manner and the conclusions are well supported and, when it comes down to it, incontrovertible. At the time of writing there is no UKBA response to the report, unlike for previous inspectorate reports. The silence is perhaps telling.
None of the above comes as news to immigration lawyers or to the unfortunate applicants who have had to apply to Abuja. However, I suspect that the most telling point made in the report is the criticism of poor value for money. It isn’t said anywhere in the report, but the idea of a ‘customer’ has yet to sink in at UKBA, despite the large fees now paid for the cursory examination applications get at the hands of ECOs. Perhaps these inspection reports will slowly begin to shift this attitude.