The UK Home office is rejecting thousands of applications for family visit visas for close relatives of NRI’s and Indians permanently settled in the UK, according to reports.
This despite the fact that the applicants are people who have lived and worked in the UK for extended time periods and paid high band taxes.
While applying for family visit visas for South Asian applicants has historically been notoriously difficult, the Home Office appears to be coming up with ever more creative ways to deny children to sponsor parents to visit the UK. One of the more recent examples is Home Office officials rejecting visa applications on the basis of large money transfers made by the applicants to their parents from the UK to India.
Experts say that the Home Office frequently cites these transactions as “suspicious” and evidence of “dependency” when in fact transferring money to India is a routine and normal practice for many South Asians living in the UK. Savings are often invested in their country of origin and entrusting those savings to parents for investment or other purposes is a common practice.
It’s common knowledge that inward transfers of funds from NRI’s remains one of the biggest sources of income for India as a whole. In 2015, remittances totalled nearly $70 billion accounting for 4% of GDP.
Often it is also recompense for Indian parents who dedicate their life in the private or public sector to raise, educate and marry off their children.
They are left with little or no savings to show and then once the children are settled they take charge of looking after their parents by giving them a monthly allowance.
The Home Office is also reportedly viewing these transactions as evidence that the beneficiaries of the applications intending to settle in the UK.
If the applicant happens to be a single parent because his or her partner has passed away or has no property or large savings to show then the chances are often deemed worse.
In one distressing example, the father of Rain Rawat, a London-based IT professional, applied for a visitor visa late last year.
He had spent his working life as a driving instructor and had continued to work well past his retirement after raising his son and daughter.
“He is a heart patient and he wanted to travel beyond India and visit his daughter and grandson at least once, that was his great hope since he was the only person in the family who had not visited. He was a self-employed man who had worked all his life and invested every penny he earned in his children”, Ms Rawat says.
While he had invested in a number of properties in New Delhi, he had – as Indian parents are known to do – transferred ownership of those properties to his children.
In October, he went through the usual rigmarole of applying for a British visit visa – the long queues, endless paperwork and the stress of the unknown.
His application was, however, summarily rejected by the British immigration officials who cited “large money transfers” Ms Rawat had made to her father.
The officials claimed that this was evidence that Mr Rawat was unable to support himself during his stay in the UK, when in fact his daughter – a highly paid IT professional, homeowner and permanent British resident married to a British passport holder – had pledged to sponsor his stay and sundry expenses during his time in the UK.
As is required, she had produced all the necessary documentation to support the application.
Curiously, Ms Rawat’s mother – a housewife with no source of income or savings – had been granted a visitor visa in the past.
The immigration official also claimed that Mr Rawat had no incentive to return to India after his visit as he had no “ties” to the country – when in fact, he had spent his entire life in India, has a wife there, a son – with whom he lives – another daughter and grandchildren not to mention social and work networks.
Despite reapplying twice more, the application was rejected causing not only a great deal of embarrassment but untold stress for Mr Rawat.
Ms Rawat says that the reason she reapplied twice – also at huge cost – was because immigration officials never make it clear as to the reasons behind the rejection. It was only later that the full story was made clear.
What makes the situation even more appalling is the apparent inconsistency displayed by the UK immigration authorities when dealing with these applications.
In the case of a second individual who approached ILUK with her story, the mother of a UK passport holder – also a successful IT professional – was rejected due to money transfers she had received from her son in the UK.
The Home Office reportedly deemed these transactions – totalling no more than £3000 – as “suspicious” and evidence that the applicant – an elderly housewife – was unable to support herself during her stay in the UK and intended to “settle” in the UK.
Among the questions raised by the immigration officer was how a housewife who had never worked came by such a large amount of money.
However, when her son reapplied with a covering letter outlining the fact that his mother depended on him for funds and he provided receipts for the Western Union transfers to her, her visa was approved.
The two cases display a glaring lack of cultural understanding on the part of the Home Office of the kind of relationship that would exist between Indian off spring and their parents and arbitrariness in the decision-making process.
These are just two of dozens of cases which have left hundreds of Indian families distressed.
The fact that an NRI has the means to support a visit from his or her parent is inadequate evidence for the Home Office which appears to be clutching at straws and coming up with new and more arbitrary ways to make it difficult for people from India outside the European Union to visit the United Kingdom.
The Home Office – as per usual – does not comment on individual cases.