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Peter Millett

Ambassador to Libya, Tripoli

Part of UK in Jordan

11th September 2011

The visa issue

Seeing off the group of young Jordanians who are going to the United Kingdom on scholarships is a time to celebrate the close links between Jordan and the UK when it comes to education. Britain is a place where many people want to study because of the high quality of its schools, colleges and universities. And welcoming international students is a high priority for those universities because they bring a depth of cultural and intellectual diversity that enhances the quality and value of their courses.

The large number of students heading in Britain’s direction every September puts a increased pressure on Britain’s diplomatic network. The British Council offers a service to advise students on courses and how to apply.  And the UK Border Agency network, such as the team based in the Embassy in Amman, then offer a service to issue the student with a visa. This is not an easy task. As immigration has become an increasingly sensitive issue in Europe, making sure that students are genuine is not necessarily straightforward. There have been plenty of cases of fake colleges and fraudulent applications, people using education as an excuse for illegal entry to the UK.

So we have strict legislation which dictates what our visa officers have to look for to ensure that each and every  applicant is genuine. Of course, in the vast majority of cases they are. But the legal requirements do not give us a lot of flexibility. So if the documentation is not right, eg to demonstrate that the place is confirmed in a genuine place of education and to show that the student has the funds to support him or herself, we cannot issue the visa.

I know that a lot of Jordanians dislike the fact that they don’t get to see a face or have an interview during the visa process. But at the same time, we are under pressure to ensure that we issue visas quickly. Our system is designed to simplify and accelerate the way we work. That means applying at a specialised visa application centre rather than the Embassy and a behind-the-scenes process for assessing the documents and taking the decision. Interviews would mean delays.

I am aware that there have been some problems this year. We have worked hard to speed up the visa process and have succeeded in eliminating the backlog and delays. Our UKBA team is committed to giving a good service and work hard to do so. Inevitably, we have lessons to learn from reviewing the feedback from applicants. We are in constant touch with the UK Border Agency system to ensure that our service is even better next year.  And the message to people who want to visit, study or do business is: you are welcome.  Please apply early and follow very precisely the instructions and guidance on the website: http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/visas-immigration/

Most important of all, we want people to feel that the process of issuing a visa is the first step in their visit to Britain. They will certainly feel welcome in Britain, so we want them to feel that the visa process in Amman is efficient and fair. That will be our aim next year in particular when we hope to encourage many more Jordanians of all ages to participate and enjoy the Olympics in London.

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About Peter Millett

Peter arrived in Tunis on 23 June 2015 to take up his post as Ambassador to Libya. Previously he was British Ambassador to Jordan from February 2011 to June 2015. He was High Commissioner to…

Peter arrived in Tunis on 23 June 2015 to take up his post as
Ambassador to Libya.
Previously he was British Ambassador to Jordan from February 2011 to June 2015.
He was High Commissioner to Cyprus from 2005 – 2010.
He was Director of Security in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
from 2002-2005, dealing with all aspects of security for British
diplomatic missions overseas.
From 1997-2001 he served as Deputy Head of Mission in Athens.
From 1993-96 Mr Millett was Head of Personnel Policy in the FCO.
From 1989-93 he held the post of First Secretary (Energy) in the UK
Representative Office to the European Union in Brussels, representing
the UK on all energy and nuclear issues.
From 1981-1985 he served as Second Secretary (Political) in Doha.
Peter was born in 1955 in London.  He is married to June Millett and
has three daughters, born in 1984, 1987 and 1991.  
His interests include his family, tennis and travel.