Home Office data on visa refusals shows that African applicants are over twice as likely to be refused a United Kingdom visa as applicants from any other part of the world.
The data was revealed in a report produced by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Africa, (APPG).
The report showed that 27 percent of African visitor visa requests made between September 2016 and September 2018 were refused, compared with the overall refusal rate of 12 percent. For both Middle Eastern and Asian applicants, the figure was 11 percent, while for North Americans it was 4 percent.
The report further said that the documentation required as well as the process is considered particularly demeaning by Africans who feel that they are treated differently from visitors from other parts of the world.
APPG is concerned with the high level of visa refusals for African nationals seeking to visit the UK, for professional or business reasons.
“The UK has good relations with most African countries, but it needs to be recognized that no single issue does more potential damage to the image or influence of the UK in Africa than this visa question,” the APPG said.
The report revealed inconsistent or careless decision-making where some of the information provided by the visa applicants was overlooked. It also showed there was a perceived lack of procedural fairness. For example, for certain African countries, visa applications, as well as interviews, can only be done in a neighboring country.
Labour MP and APPG chair Chi Onwura says the report sheds light on a ‘broken visa system’ that is doing severe damage to UK-Africa relations.
“As well as our relations, it damages our economy and society. It is embarrassing, patronising and insulting to African applicants and leaves the slogan of ‘Global Britain’ empty and meaningless,” she said.
Home Office understands the concerns but through a spokesperson said that its procedures are not discriminatory and the UK welcomes all genuine visitors from Africa.
“Visa applications from African nationals are at their highest level since 2013 and decision-makers do not discriminate on the basis of age, gender, religion or race”, the office spokesperson said.
APPGs concluded that it is undoubtedly true that the UK greatly benefits from its close ties with Africa, a continent of growth and opportunity and very possibly the next century’s economic growth powerhouse. By 2030 one in five people will be African.