The UK government has been urged to introduce automatic approval of visit visas for families of British Citizens.
“Family members of UK Citizens shouldn’t have to meet the same criteria as other applicants for a visit visa. Not being a citizen doesn’t make our parent, siblings, children or grandchildren any less a part of our family. The only requirement should be that a British relative sponsors them,” says an online petition initiated by Nieva Restarick.
“If we can support them, there is no reason to reject an application. The same restrictions would still apply: no public funds; no ability to work, and checks to ensure no threat to national security.”
Restarick reveals that his sister has who has visited four times without ever overstaying or working, has now been refused a visa.
“A lot of families are heartbroken because relatives cannot visit. Let’s bring families together and recognise the right to a family life for British citizens and their families,” says the petition.
The petition, on Parliament’s have-your-say site, had gathered just over 64,487 signatures at the time of writing.
In their response to the petition, Home Office said they had no plans to change the Immigration Rules for visitors to introduce automatic approval of visit visas for families of British Citizens.
“The UK welcomes genuine visitors to the UK. The visitor route offers a huge range of activities that can be undertaken whilst a person is in the UK, including spending time with family,” Home Office said. “Every visitor is assessed against the same Immigration Rules regardless of nationality. The only difference is where that assessment is made. Some individuals are assessed overseas by an entry clearance officer, while others are assessed at the UK border. All visitors to the UK are assessed against the Immigration Rules on a case by case basis.”
Home Office stressed that all visitors must meet the requirements outlined in the Immigration Rules.
“Automatically approving visas for a select group of people would mean that important considerations against the Immigration Rules would not be applied consistently and could raise equality concerns. It could lead to discrimination against those who do not have family members in the UK but have just as valid a reason for wishing to visit the UK,” Home Office said.
The government’s refusal to accept this petition is far from stopping. It continues to attract the backing of many people and is most likely to reach receive 100,000 signatures. Once that happens, the petition will be considered for debate in Parliament.