A delegation of two Pakistani Christians invited to Scotland by the Church of Scotland granted permission to visit Scotland after initially refused visa. British Home Office had previously refused travel visas for both of them over financial concerns and assumed they might seek asylum in the UK afterwards. These Pakistanis were invited by the Church of Scotland as part of connecting link between Church of Scotland’s Glasgow Presbytery and the Diocese of Hyderabad in Pakistan.
Visa refusal was ensued by protest by Church of Scotland, claiming that the Church’s Presbytery of Glasgow had provided guarantee for two high-ranking delegates from the Church of Pakistan. These two senior delegates from the Church of Pakistan were invited to Glasgow. The Church of Scotland further complained that despite the guarantee and that the Kirk has assured that it would pay for the trip of Pakistani delegates, the Home Office still turned down their visa applications denying them entry to the UK.
British Premier had pledged to look into the case, prior to government’s U-turn. Speaking in this regard, SNP MP Kirsten Oswald said: The fact that the refusal has now been overturned rewards the efforts of Greenbank Parish Church who brought this important issue to my attention – and I am delighted that the twinning project will now be able to go ahead.
“The initial decision to refuse visas to the two Pakistani Christians was simply wrong – particularly with it coming down to the applicants being unable to prove they were wealthy enough to be allowed into the UK, despite the visits being fully funded by the Presbytery of Glasgow.”
In this connection a Home Office spokesman said: “It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure they submit the required evidence to show they meet the financial requirements for the visa category they have applied for. Where this evidence is not provided applications will be refused.”
Pakistani Christians are expected to travel to Glasgow next month for a week-long stay. The Presbytery of Glasgow will host them. While remarking in this regard, Joint Clerk Bill Hewitt said that the previous ruling could set a dangerous precedent.
“There are other international conferences planned for the future and if we were only going to allow Christians who had money intro the country then that was going to say a dreadful thing for what kind of country Britain was,” he said.