Friday, September 26, 2014
Jackson Biko is a Kenyan writer. He recently applied for a visa to visit the U.K. and was denied. He then blogged about his experience, which went viral. Here are a few choice excerpts:
Last week I spent four hours applying for a visa to travel to the UK. Yesterday when I picked up my passport, with it was a letter from the Home Office denying me a visa. The letter reeked of British snobbery, delivering underhanded “insults” with words like “onus”.
There was no signature at the end of the letter. Like those cowardly guys who use anonymous twitter handles to pick fights online.
I’m not worthy of the United Kingdom because of the risk I may refuse to come back home. Because I may cling onto the next white man’s leg, as immigration drags away me to Heathrow, to toss me back to Africa on the next flight out. The lure of the United Kingdom is so overpowering that once I step on that hallowed soil, I will instantly forget my wife and two kids and all my friends. The homeboy at the Home Office isn’t convinced that I’m content with what I have at home.
But those words, “balance of probabilities” stayed with me. They will haunt me for a while. The Home Office meant that the probability of me hiding in the United Kingdom was too much for their great kingdom to fathom. That I would leave my flourishing career, my family and my friends, our sandy beaches to disappear among the unappealing misty rain soaked hills of England.
What is so intriguing about this story is that the blog post led the U.K. High Commissioner to Kenya issuing a direct response! Commissioner Turner noted that his office approves nearly 75% of visa applications from Kenya, and that most refusals relate to lack of sufficient supporting documentation. He goes on to write:
Being refused a visa is not a nice experience. At the very least, it’s an inconvenience. For some it will be much worse than this. It can feel like a personal slight on your character, impersonally delivered by a cold bureaucracy. But you are not powerless in this process.
Your own actions do greatly affect the outcome of your application, and you have the right of appeal.
An appeal? Hm. I take it the UK doesn't follow our position on "consular absolutism"?