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Entry Clearances

Volume 508: debated on Monday 22 March 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what change there has been to the number of entry clearance applications granted since the transfer of the processing of such applications from the British consulate in Tel Aviv to the British embassy in Istanbul; whether the decision to transfer responsibility for deciding such applications from Israel to Turkey was made as part of a wider Home Office policy; whether an equality impact assessment was carried out prior to this decision; and if he will make a statement. (318455)

The hub and spoke programme was implemented in the British consulate in Tel Aviv on 7 April 2008. From this date, applications have been processed at the British embassy in Istanbul. Entry clearance decisions in Istanbul are made by a team of entry clearance officers (ECOs), all of whom at present are British nationals.

Key benefits of the hub and spoke programme include the consolidation of staff and complicated administrative functions into fewer locations to improve productivity and efficiency; improved quality and consistency of decision making; greater resilience and flexibility of the overseas network by allowing staff and their work to be located in more stable locations; and the delivery of customer service benefits such as the increase in the number of locations at which applications can be registered.

For the financial year of 2007-08, 1,886 visas were granted at the British consulate in Tel Aviv. Following the implantation of the hub and spoke programme, 1,500 visas applied for in Tel Aviv were granted in the financial year of 2008-09. Israelis do not require a visa to visit the UK.

Although a formal Equality Impact Assessment did not take place, an internal impact assessment was carried out before the hub and spoke programme was implemented.