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Downsizing of UK visa and immigration services in India and Bangladesh

Volume 597: debated on Thursday 25 June 2015

The Petition of residents of the UK,

Declares that the Government’s decision to downsize the Mumbai Deputy High Commission’s visa services will inconvenience hundreds of thousands of people; further that these changes to one of the busiest visa centres in the world will move the majority of decision-making powers to New Delhi; further that in Dhaka in Bangladesh, visa decision-making powers have been removed altogether which de-prioritises the importance of the UK’s relationship with Bangladesh; further that the decision was made under ‘cost-cutting’ measures as it may take longer for decisions on visas for friends and families of British Indians and Bangladeshis to be made and may cause them to encounter numerous problems and further that a local petition on this matter was signed by 196 residents of Leicester East.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to immediately review the decision to downsize visa and immigration services in India and Bangladesh.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Keith Vaz, Official Report, 23 March 2015; Vol. 594, c. 11P.] [P001467]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Home Department:

The decision to move visa processing from Bangladesh to Delhi, which was completed in September 2014, in no way reflects a de-prioritisation of the importance of the UK’s relationship with Bangladesh. UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) continues to retain a team of staff in our High Commission in Dhaka and all passports are retained in Bangladesh.

The decision is as a result of the way we continue to modernise how we process UK visa applications to ensure we provide safe and secure decisions, excellent customer service and value for money to the taxpayer.

From as early as 2006, the international operation has been moving towards a consolidated ‘hub and spoke’ model. As well as reducing costs, making decisions on larger numbers of cases in regional hubs increases resilience and improves security. This model allows flexibility in reacting to changes in demand; and improves decision quality, by standardising decisions and allowing UKVI to share intelligence across regions.

Only a small proportion of applications worldwide are now decided in the same city where they were lodged. Moving work from smaller more expensive locations to more stable regional hubs has reduced the risks to staff and created a visa network that is more flexible and responsive.

There has been, and will be, no change to the process for customers in Bangladesh and Western India applying for a UK visa. Customers are still able to make visa applications in visa application centres (2 in Bangladesh and 4 in Western India) and access a range of premium services such as a 3-5 working day priority visa service. Visa applications will also be processed under the same global customer service standards.