Independent Chief Inspector publishes report on Istanbul visa section

The fairness and quality of decision making at the Istanbul visa section is a matter of concern however it was good to see a number of positive initiatives in place, said John Vine CBE QPM, the Independent Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency, publishing his short-notice inspection report of the Istanbul visa section.

The inspection took place on 24-25 November 2010 and focused primarily on the decision making quality in refused visitor visa cases.

At the time of inspection, the Chief Inspector was pleased to find that:

  • the refusal notices issued from the Istanbul visa section were among the best encountered as they were well-structured, easy to follow and in line with guidance;
  • file sampling identified some good examples of effective decision making and clear evidence of appropriate checks being made; and
  • a number of positive initiatives were in place to enhance service quality and further develop stakeholder engagement.

However, the Chief Inspector was concerned to find that:

  • in approximately a quarter of the visa cases sampled, key evidence provided by applicants was overlooked;
  • in almost a third of visa cases sampled, applicants were refused on the basis of requirements that wouldn’t have been clear to them at the time of application;
  • there needed to be a much stronger focus on the quality of case reviews undertaken by Entry Clearance Managers; and
  • supporting documents were not retained with applications in a number of cases examined, contrary to Agency guidance.

John Vine, Independent Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency, said:

“This was my first short-notice inspection overseas.  I chose the Istanbul visa section as it is one of the largest visa issuing posts in the world and processes a significant number of limited appeal right visitor visas each year.

“Refusal notices issued from the Istanbul visa section were among the best I have encountered, clearly setting out the grounds for refusal where a visa was denied. This helped applicants understand why their application was unsuccessful. I also found a number of positive initiatives in place to enhance service quality and further develop stakeholder engagement.

“It was therefore disappointing to find that in almost half of all files sampled, either key evidence provided by applicants was overlooked or applicants were refused on the basis of requirements that wouldn’t have been clear to them when making their application. This lack of transparency has been a key feature of my other recent overseas inspections, most significantly in Amman, and raises issues of procedural fairness.”

Download the full report as a pdf here:

A short-notice inspection of Istanbul visa section

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