After Britain leaves the European Union, Commonwealth countries were hoping that it would be easier for their members to live and work in Great Britain but this has not been true.

The Home Office visa application process is becoming increasingly difficult for Commonwealth countries. A Bloomberg News analysis has found that refusal rates between 2017 and 2022 are higher in these nations than they were before compared to other nations outside the European Union.

The fact that less than 6% of applications from Russia, China, Saudi Arabia or Mexico were rejected during this period compared to more than 10% for some African Commonwealth members including Uganda, Cameroon and Tanzania.

The research also found large discrepancies in refusal rates among Commonwealth countries themselves and Africa is at the top among them.

UK Work Visa Refusal Rates

Image Source: Bloomberg
Image Source: Bloomberg

The rejection rate for work visas in Kenya was 8% nearly four times higher compared to only 2% in Australia or Canada. Citizens of Australia and Canada are free to visit the UK for as long as 6 months while people from Kenya need to apply for a visa in order to enter the UK.

UK visas for Commonwealth countries often have a higher rate of rejected visa applications. This is especially true when it comes to work visas, study visas, travel visas or dependent family members. The rejection rate for study visas in Cameroon is 27.2%, or around 50 times higher than the average rejections seen in Malaysia and Singapore where it’s just 0.5% of applications are rejected!

The passing of Queen Elizabeth II has occasioned an outpouring from many members within the Commonwealth, who are now asking what purpose their organization serves. David Lawrence, a research fellow at Chatham House believes that a special visa program could help address that.

Visa Refusal Rates Vary Greatly for Commonwealth Nations

Image Source: Bloomberg
Image Source: Bloomberg

If the UK is looking for something that would offer tangible benefits, then they could spearhead an initiative in migration. It would be great to see a new type of visa that makes it easier for individuals from other countries to study, visit or work in the UK. This would not only help plug some of the labor shortages but also reduce countries’ desire to leave The Commonwealth.

David Lawrence – Research Fellow at Chatham House

Immigration experts have several theories as to why the acceptance rate is so different between countries. The free movement of people within the European Union was highly unpopular in Britain and played a major role to why they voted for Brexit. Immigration has once again become a hot topic in the UK, with many people discussing how best to handle asylum seekers trying flock across from France.

The Office for National Statistics reports that net migration to the UK is at a record high, with half-a-million people entering in just one year.

The British Future’s immigration integration specialist says that it should not be difficult to obtain a special visa for skilled Commonwealth citizens so long as the people of Britain believe this is justifiable.

The UK needs your skills, no matter where you come from. The question is why do we prefer Commonwealth countries? It’s a good idea for employers to consider this as they might benefit financially and reduce their visa costs.


© 2022 Bloomberg L.P.