The Abu Dhabi and Islamabad visa sections are two of the largest overseas visa sections by volume of applications in the UK Border Agency. On his re- inspection of the Agency’s visa operation in Abu Dhabi and Islamabad the Chief Inspector said “I was particularly interested to establish what actions had been taken as a result of the recommendations in my previous inspection and overall I am pleased to say I saw considerable improvements.”
The Chief Inspector was particularly pleased to note:
- improved performance against customer service processing targets and an improvement in the quality of decision making in other visitor, Tier 4 (students) and settlement cases;
- New procedures and initiatives being implemented to further improve the quality of decision making;
- In direct response to a previous recommendation both visa sections had carried out work to examine the reasons refusal decisions were overturned at appeal and analysed the data to find common themes which were circulated to entry clearance staff and had led to improvements in the quality of decision making; and
- that both Abu Dhabi and Islamabad had a clear complaints handling process in place which was set out in internal guidance and staff had received training on complaints handling and complaints identification in both posts.
However, the Chief Inspector’s report did highlight that:
- despite findings from previous inspections and the issuing of internal guidance there were still a number of cases where staff failed to retain sufficient supporting documents on file, particularly in settlement cases where entry clearance had been granted;
- whilst an increase in the number of verification checks was noted there were still too many cases where it was felt checks were required but not carried out; and
- RALON staff in Islamabad reported they had received only limited formal forgery training and not all Entry Clearance Officers had completed the mandatory document fraud e-learning course
John Vine, Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, said:
“I was pleased to find a lot of work had been carried out in response to my earlier recommendations, which has led to improvements within both visa sections. I noted a significant improvement in the quality and consistency of decision making and I was particularly pleased to find that, in contrast to my previous inspection, visa section staff were no longer treating Pakistani nationals unfairly – a significant finding at the time of my previous inspection.
“The number of cases where an audit trail has not been kept as part of the decision making process is still too high and this, in addition to being problematic for the Agency if decisions are challenged, makes it difficult for me to determine the basis on which the decision had been made. I was also concerned at the number of cases still being refused entry clearance for failing to provide information, which they could not have been aware they needed when submitting their application a practice which is unfair on the applicants.
“I was pleased to find a clearer more robust correspondence and complaints handling process but also found that there remain opportunities for increased management oversight of correspondence.
“Overall, both posts were much improved.”
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