It had emerged that the UKBA may be discriminating unlawfully against Pakistanis in favour of applicants for British visas from the emirates of and Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Dubai. This was unearthed by the UKBA’s chief inspector Mr John Vine. However, the government has legitimised this behaviour by way of this ministerial authorisation. It is the law to discriminate against the Pakistanis, people with a terrible reputation for corruption.
The UKBA’s independent chief inspector John Vine took the view that UKBA staff deciding applications in the UAE for VFS Pakistan were making it harder for Pakistanis to get into Britain by subjecting their applications to higher levels of documentary scrutiny in comparison to applicants from the Gulf states before granting visas.
Pakistani applicants remain the fourth largest source of visa applications for the UKBA and it is estimated that last year approximately 147,000 applications (as reported by the Guardian) were made to the Agency by Pakistanis.
The terrible security situation in Pakistan has meant that problems have developed in the UKBA’s visa operations because of security considerations which in 2008 resulted in the country’s applications being processed in Abu Dhabi instead of Islamabad.
The UKBA’s independent chief inspector John Vine stated that:
“I believe this means that the UK Border Agency was not only failing to be open and transparent about their approach towards customers, but also may be discriminating unlawfully in favour of Gulf Co-operation Council customers and against Pakistanis.”
“I believe the UK Border Agency must take immediate action to ensure it is acting in compliance with its duties under the Race Relations Act 1976, and that, where it considers that different criteria are necessary, it ensures that it has the appropriate authorisation.”
Moreover, Mr Vine explained that the levels of inconsistent and sometimes poor decision making there had been worrying. Additionally, it was further revealed that “senior UKBA managers are said to be lacking in confidence in the Pakistan visa operation.”
According to the immigration minister, Mr Damian Green, the government is now considering whether the immigration rules should be amended to reflect the “risk-based approach” to visa processing. He said that the UKBA’s Abu Dhabi chapter was processing 95% of visa applications within five to 15 days.