Our client, an academic and archivist from Ahmadu Bello University in Nigeria did not expect a visitor visa refusal. He was invited to take part in an international conference dedicated to the study and preservation of Islamic manuscript collections. As Principal Archivist in a prestigious archive collection he had a wealth of experience to share and a lot of knowledge to take back to Nigeria and share with his colleagues.
It was a shock to him and a big disappointment to the organisers of the conference in Cambridge that his visa was refused.
The wording of the refusal may be worth quoting: “your income appears to be fully utilised and the balance on your account is Incongruous to the cost of the trip”. Or: “I recognise that your sponsor intends to cover the cost of your travel and stay. However, I must take your own circumstances into account when coming to a decision. I am not satisfied that the documents you have submitted satisfactorily establish that your economic ties to Nigeria have been sufficiently demonstrated as to ensure you intend a genuine visit and would seek to leave the UK at the end of the limited period stated by you.”
Indeed, our client applied without legal support and did not offer the entry clearance officer the documents showing that he is married, that he has three children, that his academic career is at the University in Maiduguri. However, all this background information was on the application form and the applicant had never been asked to provide further evidence.
We wrote to the Entry Clearance Manager in Abuja explaining that the decision was an error and that the purpose of the International conference on manuscript preservation would be defeated if people from African countries were not allowed to join. The academic standing of our client, his family ties and social position were clear guarantors of his Intention to return home. A decision as obstructive as this would warrant an application for judicial review.
It was a big relief when we received a fax confirming that the decision was set aside and our client received his visitor visa in time to travel to the UK and take part in the conference.