United Kingdom hasÂ Â always been an attrcative destinationÂ to many Nigerians and the rest of the international community evenÂ with the newÂ immigration rules put in by the United Kingdom Border Agency, (UKBA) . However, aÂ goodÂ number of NigeriansÂ apply for UKÂ VisaÂ either for business, tourism, education or greener pasture on daily basis without fully utilizing onlineÂ visa application facility as this enables themÂ Â toÂ book theirÂ appointmentÂ at the VFS Visa Application Center.
In this online interview, theÂ Â Â Operations Manager/International Group/UK Border Agency/Visa Section/British High Commission/Abuja/Nigeria, MrÂ Jason IvoryÂ spoke to Vanguard Asst. Online Editor, Emeka Aginam on a number of visa issues, while assuring visa applicants on robust IT facilities put in place for online application and a number of otherÂ issues including their monthly capacity as in visa processes.
Due to an IT problem, the UK Border Agency recentlyÂ experiencedÂ delays processing some visa applications. What is the situation like now
The UK Border Agency in Nigeria faced a temporary IT problem earlier this year which has since been resolved. We aim to turn around a majority of the applications we receive within 15 working days.
How many application does the UKBA processesÂ per monthÂ month
In April 2009, the UK Border Agency in Nigeria processed 13,343 applications, with 13,283 being dealt with in May 2009 and 18,306 in June 2009.
Applicants have the option of applying online or byÂ application form collected at the application center.
What is the percentage of online visa applicantsÂ compared to the applicants applying with application form
The number of people using our online application facility is currently very small. We do encourage our customers to use the online application facility as this enables them to book an appointment at the VFS Visa Application Centre (VAC) and submit their application in person. All customers do still have to appear in person at the VAC to submit a hard copy of their application and provide their biometrics.
How robust isÂ your IT infrastructure regarding accessing the online visa application system
We work very closely with our IT team in the UK and locally to ensure the system works to its full potential.
What is your daily capacity regarding online visa application
The system is working well but we are currently reviewing our processes to try and increase the overall capacity of the online application system.
How many students visa have you processed in the first and second quarter of 2009 financial year
From January to March 2009, UKBA processed 4,744 student applications. From April to July (to date) 2009, we processed 1,360 student applications
How many of these applications were rejected?Â How many were successful
To date in 2009, we have issued 1,696 student visas. This represents an overall refusal rate of 72%.
With theÂ point based system recently introduced requiring that students sponsors pay the maintenance fees into the studentâ€™s account before application,Â theÂ number ofÂ students applying for UK visa appear to be declining . What is the implication for the UK economy
Initially, we have witnessed a drop in the number of people applying for student visas under tier 4 of the Points Based System, not only in Nigeria but globally. However, theÂ numbers are now on the increase. Having spoken with a cross section of UK institutions, they are not seeing a reduction in the number of Nigerians seeking to continue their education in the UK and we are confident that over the coming weeks, the number applying for their visa to study in the UK will increase further.
What are your current challenges with respect to general visa application in the Nigerian economy
We are still dealing with a large number of visa applications on a daily basis. We continue to work hard with all stakeholders (including the Nigerian Government) to ensure our customers are kept fully informed of any changes to the immigration rules.