The UK Visa Immigration Service ‘UKVI’

Caseworkers are given 555 minutes to refuse an asylum application but just 222 minutes to grant one…’ 

Source :

The UKVI was created in 2013 when the UK Border Agency (UKBA), a single entity that covered both visa and Leave to Remain and asylum applications as well entry & exit checks at UK frontiers, as well as deportations and removal of illegal immigrants, was ended.  UKBA functions being then split between visa related applications (UKVI), and Immigration Enforcement (IE) and Border Force. 

From the outset a key dynamic of the Hostile environment was to ensure maximum lack of transparency in regard to the interconnection between the principal and minor agencies and entities tasked from the most senior levels in Whitehall, especially the Home Office, to deliver the Hostile Environment in as effective and vigorous a form as possible. 

The splitting of the former UKBA three main facets was certainly a necessity to create the necessary lack of transparency for Hostile Environment strategic implementation at operational level, as a single entity covering what were always heavily interconnected services, would have made the latter much more difficult to achieve.  Retaining a single entity (the UKBA) would have had an undesirable – from service user perspectives – degree of clarity on those interconnections, harmful to de-facto extensive degrees pf wont of accountability on frontline operatives in particular abusing processes (and often powers). 

The UKVI provides application services under the Home Office in the UK, and under the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) outside of the UK – the placing of its services under two different major UK government departments further obscuring clarity and transparency at operational delivery level; something further reinforced by the fact that the UKVI in the UK and the UKVI overseas (such as locations including UKVI in New Delhi with the British High Commission) do not follow uniform rules on for example placing refused stamps (‘signals’) in UKVI service users passports.  There is more in detail on the UKVI in the related processes pages of this website.

A further layer of obscurity is added to the overseas dimension of the Hostile Environment administered by the UKVI operations, attached to [and it must be assumed receiving British taxpayer funding] the FCO, in that the initial receiving and related administrative paperwork  / non-judgments processing of visa applications has been privatised. 

British civil servants do not cover these services as the FCO gave the contract to a for-profit non-British company, VFS Global ( ) who headquarters are in Dubai, and which is Swedish – Swiss.  This of course deepens further issues of transparency and accountability that characterise the Hostile Environment.

Here are some details about the UKVI on the website – observations/analysis points are included as italics:

UK Visas and Immigration is a division of the Home Office responsible for the United Kingdom’s visa system. It was formed in 2013 from the section of the UK Border Agency that had administered the visa system.

What UK Visas and Immigration does

UK Visas and Immigration is responsible for making millions of decisions every year about who has the right to visit or stay in the country, with a firm emphasis on national security and a culture of customer satisfaction* for people who come here legally. 

* This statement is as vacuous as it is disingenuous in the extreme given the scandals, service user revelations, and information revealed by whistle-blowers who in the end could not stomach drawing a salary for involvement in an agency that afflicts so many decent people in such disastrous and brutal ways.

About us

UK Visas and Immigration is responsible for making millions of decisions every year about who has the right to visit or stay in the country, with a firm emphasis on national security and a culture of customer satisfaction for people who come here legally.

Who we are

Our customer charter sets out the service UK Visas and Immigration aims to provide its customers and what it expects from them.

We have a workforce of 7,500 people based in locations around the UK and overseas. Our staff work on high volume services and more specialist casework.

Our responsibilities

  • to run the UK’s visa service, managing around 3 million applications a year from overseas nationals who wish to come to the UK to visit, study or work
  • to consider applications for British citizenship from overseas nationals who wish to settle here permanently
  • to run the UK’s asylum service offering protection to those eligible under the 1951 Geneva Convention
  • to decide applications from employers and educational establishments who want to join the register of sponsors
  • to manage appeals from unsuccessful applicants

Our priorities

We contribute to achieving the Home Office’s priorities of securing our borders and reducing immigration, cutting crime and protecting our citizens from terrorism.

UK Visas and Immigration: customer commitments

Updated 24 September 2018

We aim to be a customer-focused organisation (what does this mean? – specific definition missing), offering a high-quality service (this statement is disingenuous in the extreme given scandals, service user revelations and details provided by whistle-blowers), making it clear what you can expect from us and what your responsibilities are in return

What you can expect us to do*

You can expect us to:

  • make our application processes clear and simple (they are anything but in almost all areas: the UKVI is the acme of non-transparency, and so because of, amongst other reasons the 45,000+ changes to the immigration Rules)
  • respond to your enquiries in full – this is a more than incorrect, sweeping statement NOT backed by independently assessed evidence & research, which as with countless service user victims of the UKVI dimension of the Hostile Environment details show the opposite to be the actual truth 
  • make a correct decision based on policy and law, understanding your individual circumstances – a ‘Correct Decision’ is stated but NOT defined, nor is ANY information on Policy  and Law: ‘understanding your individual circumstances’ is proven to be a extremely disingenuous: again statement that does not agree/match operational level realities.
  • explain our decision clearly and, where appropriate, help you understand what to do next
  • have a simple to use complaints process that puts things right if we make a mistake
  • treat you with respect and be sensitive to your situation – a particularly false/incorrect statement where Hostile Environment target population groups (Windrush, Gurkha DNA scandal victims, LGBTs, etc.) are concerned
  • keep your personal information, and anything you tell us, safe and secure – this statement is particularly distasteful: the UKVI has been completely indifferent to Tribunal Hearing ‘outing’ and sending decision & reasons documents that disclose sexual orientation and partner relations to strangers
  • seek your feedback to continually improve our service

*The above, as with the below, is of course as countless members of unstated targeted population groups find, disingenuous in the extreme (moreover 45,000+ changes to the ‘Rules’ — many of which have not even been scrutinised in Parliament — is lucrative for law firms but not credible to grasp for UK immigration service users), and made it is commonly felt for PR purposes only: the realities that can and are actually experienced never appear on these website pages.

What we expect from you

To help you, we need you to:

  • check our service standards and make your application in good time
  • apply online where possible – it’s quick and easy
  • give us complete and correct* information  — definition required/lacking: information and key clear evidence is routinely provided by target population (unstated refusal quota targets) members and ignored completely / treated with flippant dismissiveness
  • respond quickly if we ask you for further information
  • tell us immediately if your circumstances change or you have special requirements
  • abide by the law – the ‘Law’ referred to is NOT defined
  • treat our staff with respect – a controversial statement when staff may and do act in ways that ignore evidence, abuse process, and treat genuine marriages with de-facto contempt [if same-sex]

Information on the process to make an application or claim, including different application types and the time required to process them, is available in the visas and immigration guides.