The Amman Visa Section had improved the quality of its decision-making and of its record-keeping since it was last inspected in 2010. Managers and staff showed a strong commitment to customer service in their efforts to maintain high standards. However, in some instances a lack of attention to detail led to inconsistencies in the issuing and refusal of visas.
The Amman Visa Section considers applications for entry clearance made by visa nationals in Gaza and the Palestinian Occupied Territories, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. The inspection focused on the quality of decision-making and the reasonableness of decisions of “Other Visitor” applications, which include tourist, business visitor, and short-term student visas. The inspection also examined the use of risk profiles and the involvement of the Risk and Liaison Overseas Network (RALON) in the decision-making process.
The Chief Inspector found:
- an overall improvement in the quality of decision-making since the previous inspection in 2010;
- record-keeping had improved and efforts were being made to ensure that the caseworking system was fully updated with notes when visas were issued;
- staff numbers in Amman had been increased to deal with a rising workload and staff and managers were committed and enthusiastic; and
- information and intelligence sharing between UKVI and RALON was quick and effective and staff relations were excellent. Refusal rates for high-risk applicants had increased over the twelve months prior to the inspection, in line with a growing risk of asylum claims from individuals who have been granted visas.
The Chief Inspector also found that:
- the Inspection judged decisions made in 11% of the sampled cases to have been unreasonable due to misinterpreted or overlooked evidence;
- the Entry Clearance Manager (ECM) review process had not picked up errors in a number of cases;
- in some cases further checks should have been carried out to ensure that high-risk applications were considered fully;
- 43% of the sampled refusal notices were unbalanced, giving little or no indication that positive evidence submitted in support of an application had been considered, leaving the applicant uncertain what additional evidence would be required to support any subsequent application; and
- the information provided to applicants by the Visa Application Centres fell short of UKVI’s commitment to customer service excellence.
NOTES TO EDITOR
- Copies of this report will be added to the Independent Chief Inspector’s website (www.independent.gov.uk/icinspector) once it has been laid in Parliament on Thursday 15 October 2015.
- David Bolt took up the post of Independent Chief Inspector on 1 May 2015.
- Visa operations are the responsibility of UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI), a Home Office directorate. UKVI processes all out-of-country UK visa applications. Its visa operations are split into six geographical regions: Euro-Med; Asia-Pacific; Central Asia, South Asia and Turkey; Americas; Africa; and Middle East and Pakistan.
- Amman is one of five decision-making hubs within the Middle East and Pakistan region. In 2014, it processed approximately 36,000 applications across all visa categories.
- The Risk and Liaison Overseas Network (RALON)’s role includes identifying threats to the UK border and supporting the decision-making process by providing information and intelligence on known risks.
- For media enquiries please contact Alex Cheatle on 0203 513 0442. The Chief Inspector will be taking bids from print and online media only.