Immigration Minister to be challenged over visa delays

13 February, 2013 2 Comments

Business leaders and university representatives are to be given the chance to challenge Immigration Minister, Mark Harper on visa delays for overseas academics, students an high-skilled employees following an invitation from the city’s MP Julian Huppert.

Julian invited Mr Harper to come and find out for himself how the “over-bureaucratic” border controls are causing problems for the city’s leading organisations.

And he also asked Home Secretary, Theresa May to make the trip to Cambridge to discuss the backlog of visa applications that is slowing down entry into the country for visitors.

He said  on Monday, February 11 in the Commons: “The Home Secretary will be well aware of many of the long delays, and I, like many members, have a number of constituents waiting for responses from the UK Border Agency.

“This is causing great concern for businesses and the universities in Cambridge, as are some of the over-bureaucratic controls that they feel they are being forced to apply on academics and students.”

Mrs May told him: “I understand that the Immigration Minister has already agreed to come to Cambridge to meet representatives of the university on the issue. I meet representatives of the Russell Group and Universities UK when we were developing our policy on ensuring that we can drive out abuse of the student visa system.

 

“We have a student visa system that ensures that the brightest and the best students – those who are coming to an institution that is genuinely providing education, to study a genuine degree course or educational course, and are intending to be students and not to use the visa to work – can come to the UK, while we are driving out abuse.”

 

Julian said later: “We have genuine visa applicants in Cambridge and across the country who are facing unacceptable waiting times to get agreement to travel to the UK. These delays are causing problems for businesses and the university as they wait for students, academics and business people to be given visas for genuine visits.

 

“I totally accept that we have to get tough to stop abuse of the visa rules but when we have reputable organisations whose daily business is being disrupted by unnecessary bureaucracy then we have real problems.

 

“Our country needs to be a welcoming place for these people but instead we are putting up unnecessary hurdles and I am worried that eventually they will choose to go elsewhere instead. This has the potential to be extremely damaging for our academic institutions and our economy as a whole.”

 

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  • Dr. Michael Berdine: February 14, 2013 11:57 am

    First of all, I must commend Joy in your office for being so pleasant and helpful in what has been a difficult problem for me regarding the excessive time it has taken the UKBA to process my Tier 1 (General) Visa. My three-year visa expired on 23/09/12 and the two-year renewal application was submitted to the UKBA 21/09/12, where it languishes to this day, far beyond the 4-6 weeks in which the Agency’s web site says it will take to be processed. Let me innumerate the problems this inordinate delay has caused me, professionally and personally: 1) I’ve been unable to get married to my fiancee, to whom I’ve been engaged since October, because I don’t have my passport, or a British drivers’ license; 2) Because I don’t have a British drivers’ license, I am unable to drive the car I purchased in November; 3) Because I don’t have my passport, I was unable to return to the U.S.A for Christmas with my family in December and, subsequently, am £600+ out of pocket for the tickets I’d purchased to fly home; 4) Because I do not have a passport, last week I had to decline an invitation (which I’d accepted last October) to attend a conference in Singapore next month, at which I was to be the keynote speaker, and am now frantically trying to find a substitute speaker; and, 5) because I have no passport, I was unable to make reservations this week to lead the students of the College of which I am principal on the annual trip to Rome in April. This situation is absolutely absurd and totally unacceptable for a major first world country like the U.K. It is something I would expect from a third world country, not Great Britain.

    Michael D. Berdine, Ph.D., Principal
    Cambridge Muslim College
    14 St. Paul’s Road
    Cambridge CB1 2EZ

  • Matthew Tye: February 17, 2013 1:29 pm

    BBC Five Live Investigates has today covered the abuse of the UKBA visa appointment booking service. This was raised with Julian in November 2011 and an automated reply to say he would take up the issue. But nothing came of it. This really shakes confidence my confidence – especially as it seems this is a political football with the MP choosing which issues he wants to take up and which will help his personal cause

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