Launching the ‘call for evidence’, David Bolt said:
In my 2019-20 inspection plan I indicated that I would be taking a further look at the Home Office’s handling of family reunion applications, having initially inspected this in 2016 and having followed up with two re-inspections, in 2017 (focusing on decisions made in Istanbul) and 2018 (focusing on Amman).
My intention is to examine the family reunion process as a whole but with a particular interest in applications received in Pretoria, since this formed part of the original inspection. However, from 2019 the Home Office has been making decisions about family reunion applications in the UK, so the inspection will also aim to look at whether this has made a difference.
I am inviting bodies with relevant knowledge and expertise, including NGOs, academics, think tanks, faith groups and representative bodies, to write to me by 24 June 2019 with their supporting evidence or case studies they are able to share.
I would also like to receive evidence from individuals, including those who have first-hand experience of the family reunion application process, but please note that my remit does not extend to investigating or making decisions about individual cases. This remains a Home Office responsibility.
I am happy to receive comments on any aspects of the process, but I am particularly interested in answers to the following questions:
- Is Home Office family reunion policy and guidance, including eligibility criteria, clear, accessible, relevant to the circumstances of those looking to be reunited, applied consistently and with understanding and compassion?
- Is the process of applying simple to follow?
- Where an application may be refused, are sponsors or applicants given an opportunity to supply further evidence or attend an interview?
- How long does it take to receive a decision?
- Are decisions explained clearly?
- How does the Home Office respond to requests for clarification, information, complaints and legal challenges?
- What particular difficulties do family reunion applicants applying from Africa face, whether applying through Pretoria or via another route?