Pakistan visa ‘discrimination’

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Nearly half of family visa requests from Pakistan rejected last year, figures sh

A LIBERAL Democrat MP has accused the government of discriminating against Pakistani nationals after figures showed that nearly half of family visa applications from the country were rejected by the UK last year.

Sarah Teather, Lib Dem MP for Brent East obtained new government figures which showed 41% of all applications were rejected from Pakistan in 2008-09.

Family visas allow relatives of British residents and citizens to visit the UK for occasions including weddings and funerals.

Last year Labour removed the right of appeal, meaning applicants are no longer able to dispute a decision which they feel is unfair.

Of the 34,778 family visa applications made from Pakistan last year, 23,597 were refused.

It marked a contrast to other South Asian countries where Bangladesh had a refusal rate of 31%, Sri Lanka 17% and India 14%.

“People naturally want to spend important occasions like weddings, funerals and birthdays with their close family around them, and it causes real distress when the government deny people the support of their family support when they most need it,” Ms Teather said.

 “These figures reveal a clear discrimination against Pakistanis and, with Labour having abolished the appeals process, there is no way of turning around a bad decision.

 “The government need to take a very close look at why such a large proportion of family visas are being rejected, and bring back the right of appeal.  It cannot be right for the government to deny families their right to spend time together.”

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