In 2012, the UK government introduced a new immigration policy know as "the hostile environment policy" designed to flush out illegal immigrants in the United Kingdom and making it even harder to enter the UK with a set of complex administrative and legislative rules.
In spite of these complexities, there is a high number of passenger arrivals in the UK annually but the figures for people not from the EU are declining and they account for the lowest among passenger arrivals to the United Kingdom.
According to the Home Office data on immigration statistics in June, 2019, "arrivals from British, other European Union Countries and Swiss nationals increased by 7 percent to 124.4 million while arrivals from Non-EEA nationals decreased by 7 percent to 19.6 million"
Ghanaians like people from many other Commonwealth countries require visas to enter the UK, but the process to getting a visa to enter the United Kingdom can be complicated and very often doesn't have happy endings for all applicants.
JUDITH EKAR'S STORY
Twenty three-year -old Judith Ekar, a Ghanaian Aviation student has been refused "a six-month- standard visitor's visa" five times.
In 2017, she first applied for a standard-visitor-visa to attend the world travel market in London but Judith had her application refused on a number of grounds including not showing the source of her sponsor's income and failing to demonstrate her intentions to leave the UK at the end of her intended visit.
These are common grounds for refusal for many Africans and the Home Office is very clear with their eligibility requirements for a standard visitor visa. It indicates on the government visa application website that applicants must always show ;
* They’ll leave the UK at the end of their visit.
* They’re able to support themselves and any dependents for the duration of their trip.
* They're able to pay for their return or onward journey and any other costs relating to their visit among other requirements.
Judith says she provides valid documents to remedy any previous errors on her applications together with new set of evidence each time she applies but she still hasn't be granted visa after multiple attempts.
"It's always a sad day for me and I even told my family what is happening to me," she says. "I don't understand why everytime I try to apply for a visa the same result comes out and I have applied five times, five times."
Loveland Nyamedor, was also 17 when he first applied for a UK standard visitor visa for a vacation with his uncle in July 2016. He noted that the process was cumbersome because he had to put together a large number of documents as a first-timer in order to get it right.
From getting high school transcripts to afinancial statement from a local bank where he had a child's account, Loveland knew he'd provided all the required documents.He was disappointed by the request from the home office which asked for details of his personal properties at age 17.
As of 2016, he was a final year student in high school and he was expected to return home after his intended trip to sit his West African Senior High School Certificate Examination.
Despite providing documents showing his student status and funds for his onward journey,
"They refused me because they said I don't have investment and properties in Ghana, in effect I don't have anything tying me to Ghana" he says.
This brings into sharp focus the other difficult requirements visitors need to meet in order to be eligible for a UK visitor visa.
"How can a 17 year old boy in school who isn't done with even high school have any properties or investment in Ghana?"Loveland asks.
Yussif's Success story:
Challenged his decision in court when asked to provide a birth certificate from hospital.
SETTLING FOR UK AS A STUDY DESTINATION.
Yussif is one of the thousands of visa applicants who've had to contest and overturn an Entry Clearance Officer's (ECO) decision on their visas. This path comes at a hefty price and is always fraught with a long legal marathon. Apart from ensuring that one must have a legal representation in the UK, it is usually taxing and time-consuming to challenge a visa decision in Court. Yussif said he had to pay a lawyer and let his father represent him in a UK court for more than a year in order to appeal his decision and be able come live legally in the UK.
"I'd to make an appeal and also pay for a new visa application fee with NHS. I also went to the hospital I was delivered of for a report to certify my birth date." he says.
Yussif ordeal was distressing and also tested his patience and resilience. He maintains that the only reason for coming to the UK is to study and impart his knowledge on the next generation of African leaders. He believes the UK has a reputation for a quality educational system and that he was only striving to make his dream come true.
Today, Yussif currently lives in East London and is studying for a Bachelor's Degree in Law after his successful appeal.
Yussif opens up for the first time about his visa decision
Yussif opens up for the first time about his visa decision
QUARTERLY PRESENTATION OF VISA DATA FOR GHANA BETWEEN 2017 AND 2018.
The open data sourced from the Home office June 2019 statistics on visas.
The findings from the data suggest that since the two years, there has been a sharp increase in visitor applications to the UK by Ghanaians in 2018 to twice as many recorded in 2017. The figures also revealed that the rate of refusal were slightly proportional to the volume of visas applied for within a quarter.
THE GHANAIAN COMMUNITY IN LONDON.
Practising faith in London.
The office of National statistics estimates that the Ghanaian born population in the UK was 96,000 in 2016. Many of these residents are populated around East and North London.
The pious nature of Ghanaians is all but evident abroad as I made my way through docklands, I found a few churches including the Calvary Baptist Church organising a convention which is typical of Ghanaian spiritual life.
APPG REPORT ON AFRICAN VISA DATA
In a new report released by Malawi's All-Party Parliamentary Group on Visas and Immigration in July 2019. It concluded that available data published by the Home Office show that;
"African applicants are more than twice as likely to be refused a UK visa than applicants from any other part of the world".
A STATEMENT FROM THE HOME OFFICE.
In the UK the Home Office is a ministerial department of Government responsible for immigration and security in the UK.
In a statement released in connection with the reports the Home Office says:
“The UK welcomes all visitors from Africa and wants its visa system to support our important and increasing business and trade ties with the continent. Visa applications from African nationals are at their highest level since 2013 and decision makers do not discriminate on the basis of age, gender, religion or race.We remain committed to getting visa decisions right the first time, every time.”
GHANA'S TAKE ON THE VISA REFUSAL.
"The UK and Ghana are both sovereign States and have no agreements on visa waivers. We do recognise that there are sometimes genuine people from Ghana who require visas to travel to the UK and are refused but the problem here has been forgery on the part of some Ghanaian visitors. Likewise, if we feel a UK national has not met our requirements we have all the rights to deny them visas."