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Volume 222: debated on Thursday 2 April 1992

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the current waiting time for Somali refugees who are awaiting entry certificates to join dependants; and if he will make a statement.

Most Somali refugee applications for entry clearance to join dependants are received at Nairobi, Addis Ababa and Djibouti/Sana'a. Where Home Office authority has been pre-advised to post, in accordance with the concessions agreed by Ministers in 1988, visas are issued on the day of application. All other applicants are interviewed by an entry clearance officer and their applications referred to the Home Office. Applicants at Nairobi are usually interviewed within seven days. The waiting time for interview at Addis Ababa is currently about six weeks. There are no visa issuing staff at Djibouti. Entry clearance officers from Sana'a visit Djibouti every two months to carry out interviews. The Home Office decision on applications can take between three weeks and six months depending on the complexity of individual cases.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the way applications for entry certificates by citizens of Somalia are dealt with at the British high commission, Nairobi; and if he will make a statement.

Entry clearance procedures at all posts overseas are constantly monitored. Applications for entry clearance by citizens of Somalia are processed at the British high commission, Nairobi, in accordance with the operating standards established by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for all overseas posts. Somali applicants for transit visas are interviewed on the clay of application and, if appropriate, visas issued on the same day. Somalis who wish to join relatives in the United Kingdom for settlement are granted interviews usually within seven days from submitting their applications and details are then sent to the Home Office for decision, a process which usually takes between 10 and 25 days.