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Volume 704: debated on Tuesday 21 October 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What are the route, anticipated journey time and travel cost for applicants from Equatorial Guinea applying for visas for entry into the United Kingdom when required to attend an interview in Accra. [HL5619]

Equatorial Guinea passport holders have never been required to visit either Abuja or Accra in order to apply for a UK visa. They may submit their applications at any UK Visa Application Centre convenient to them. Every effort is made to make decisions on visa applications on the basis of documentary evidence and it is extremely unlikely that an interview would be required.

There is a range of options for passengers wishing to fly from Equatorial Guinea to Accra. The journey times and fares depend on a range of factors such as the route taken, how far in advance the tickets are booked, and class of travel.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the move from Abuja to Accra of the place of issuing of visas to the United Kingdom for citizens of Equatorial Guinea is considered to improve the service from the perspective of the applicant. [HL5620]

Citizens of Equatorial Guinea may apply for a UK visa at any British mission overseas with visa-processing facilities, including Abuja and Accra. The nearest UK visa application centre is in Yaounde, Cameroon, which has traditionally been the location preferred by citizens of Equatorial Guinea. During the 12 months to September 2008, 109 of the 223 applications lodged worldwide by EG citizens were lodged in Yaounde. In July 2008, the Yaounde visa section was closed as a visa issuing post, but a facility was retained to accept applications that are forwarded by courier to Accra for processing. EG nationals may still apply there and can expect a processing time of two to three weeks.

Straightforward applications submitted in Yaounde are available for return to the applicant within eight to 10 days and those that are not straightforward take between 13 and 15 working days. Although no specific research has been done for EG applications globally, our experience and research shows that applicants value speed less than they value transparency and clear messages about the time their application will take.

While there are no longer facilities in Yaounde to deal with emergency applications, nationals of Equatorial Guinea may travel to Accra, Abuja or Lagos and make an application in person.