Drive on to make it easy for non-EU families to visit UK

Vidya Ram London | Updated on January 23, 2018

The issue of the treatment of family members of British citizens has become part of a wider public

Indians lead campaign; visa rules raise barriers at crucial times

A campaign to ease the route for non-EU family members of British citizens visiting the country gained momentum, as over 60,000 people signed a parliamentary petition calling for the introduction of an automatic approval process.

The issue of the treatment of family members of British citizens has become part of a wider public and political debate about the state of Britain’s immigration system, and the impact it has on families and beyond.

“Sadly it’s a problem faced by a lot of Indian families in Britain, and often at the worst occasions such as when there is a family funeral and they are unable to come over,” says Harsev Bains of the Indian Workers Association. He said that the campaign had generated a lot of support from within the Indian community (though not instigated by its members) as many families had been impacted by it at one time or another.

The petition on the parliamentary website — which is a platform means for members of the public to draw the attention of drawing the attention of parliament to an issue and elicit a response from the government — pointed to instances of close family members such as siblings or parents being refused a visa, despite their never breaking any condition of their visitors’ visas, such as by working.

What petition points to

“A lot of families are heartbroken because relatives cannot visit,” reads the petition, which has attracted over 63,117 signatures. The petition argues that the only requirement should be that a British relative can sponsor them.

“If we can support them, there is no reason to reject an application,” it argues. After the number of signatures reached 10,000, triggering the need for a government response, the Home Office said that it had no plans to change the rules for visitors.

It said that visas remained an “important part of securing the UK’s border” and that an automatic process for relatives could lead to discrimination against those who did not have family members but had a valid reason for wishing to visit the country.

“Automatically approving visas for a select group of people would mean that important considerations against the Immigration Rules would not be applied consistently and could raise equality concerns.”

However, should the number of signatures exceed 100,000, a debate on the issue could be held in Parliament.

Over 60,000 people have signed the petition for an automatic approval process

Published on January 23, 2018

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