Independent Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency Publishes Report on the Visa Section in Abuja

The Independent Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency (UKBA), John Vine CBE QPM, has today published the report of his findings following an inspection of the Visa Section in Abuja, Nigeria, from 7-10 July 2009.

In Abuja the team sampled 100 randomly selected files, drawn from a list of all refusal decisions with limited appeal rights made in Abuja between 1 December 2008 and 28 February 2009. The files were examined to assess the quality of decision- making and whether correct procedures were used to reach balanced decisions.

The inspection concluded that entry clearance staff in Abuja were experienced and committed, however, the volume of applications, together with target driven performance, had impacted on the ability of staff to provide careful consideration of applications. Decision quality was found to be poor, as was the standard of refusal notices issued. This represented poor value for money to customers who had paid for the service.

The report also highlighted the need for improved guidance about the online visa application process to make it easier for customers to understand and navigate. Information about supporting documentation for an application also needed to be clarified to ensure customers are clear about what is required and in what format.

The report on Abuja is the second to be published on visa posts overseas by the Chief Inspector, following a formal assessment earlier this year of the Visa Section in Rome.

Both the inspections followed the remit of the former Independent Monitor in considering cases where Refusal of Entry Clearance carries limited rights of appeal.

John Vine said:

“I am very pleased to publish the report on my recent inspection of the Visa Section in Abuja. The assessment uncovered a number of areas of concern where an improvement in operational procedures and the quality of decision making is needed.

“I was particularly disappointed by poor data accuracy in Abuja, with 29 per cent of the files sampled being recorded inaccurately on the case management system used by the UKBA.

“The fact that only 72 per cent of the refusal notices we sampled were found to be lawful, reasonable and providing correct information about rights of appeal, was also concerning. This placed Abuja in the poor band as set out on the scoring system employed by the previous Independent Monitor and adopted by my team for this inspection. In addition, Entry Clearance Officers had failed to take into account all of the evidence provided by the visa applicant in 19 per cent of the refusal notices we sampled.

“In future inspections of visa posts it is my intention to widen the remit to sample applications where entry clearance was approved, as well as, refused.”

Download the report in full as PDF here:

Alternatively, the full inspection report on the Visa Section in Abuja can be viewed alongside previous inspection reports.

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