The outsourcing of visa services represents a step backwards in a broken institution. Without a culture shift, people’s experiences will continue to be lined with profiteering and disarray, writes Rosie Urbanovich
My fingers shook as they pressed into the scanner at my citizenship appointment. Forcing a smile, I thought: I’ve come so far, I won’t risk saying anything now. My UK passport would be in hand soon enough – and this would all be over.
I squirmed in my chair as the employee behind the desk, who referred to himself as my Immigration Officer, called me beautiful for a third time. He flicked through my documents as he told me my hair looked unnatural. I smiled for the biometric camera as he asked how attractive my husband found me. The comments went on for the duration of my appointment.
These crude remarks did not come from an employee of the Home Office, but from an employee of a private company, to which all UK visa and citizenship services were outsourced in 2018 and has faced frequent calls for investigation, while offering scarce availability for compulsory visa appointments.