British immigration officials pass Pak visas in just 11 minutes

July 4th, 2009 - 5:45 pm ICT by ANI  

New York, July 4 (ANI): British immigration officials in Pakistan devote just 11 minutes to scrutinize and pass a visa application in a country considered to be the hotbed of terrorism, the Telegraph has revealed.

The revelation that officials are also not checking supporting evidence in thousands of applications from Pakistan and Afghanistan has fuelled security concerns. And there have been no back up telephone interviews on applications since a controversial out-sourced visa system was implemented last year. Since the new system began operating, there have been 66,415 visa applications and only 11 entry clearance officers and two managers in Islamabad. That means the equivalent of 43 applications each every day if they work eight hours a day for 20 days a month. It gives them just 11 minutes to make vital security checks before another officer in a separate country decides whether to grant entry to the UK. While all passports are checked, officials only examine other supporting documents in 80 per cent of cases, meaning some 13,283 applications did not have additional evidence checked. Chris Grayling, the shadow Home Secretary who obtained the figures, said: “We’ve had endless rhetoric from Ministers in recent months about how they’ve dramatically tightened the rules for visa applicants from countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan, now we discover the system is riddled with holes and the checks are wholly inadequate. It’s just not good enough,” he said. Earlier this year, 11 suspects arrested in Manchester bombing plot came to Britain from Pakistan using student visas.

The Home Office has rejected reports of loophole in the immigration procedure. Phil Woolas, Minister for Borders and Immigration, said: “These calculations are totally wrong and paint a false picture of our decision making process. We have around 200 staff who deal with applications from Pakistan, not 11, and trained officers check 100% of passports submitted with applications in Pakistan.” “Our visa controls are tougher than ever with every application scrutinised, fingerprints taken, and the individuals checked against a range of watch-lists. If there is still any doubt, we can conduct face-to-face interviews,” he added. (ANI)

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