The Scotland Malawi Partnership has an agreement with the UK Government to help secure UK visas for our Members inviting their Malawian partners to Scotland for short visits.
Malawians traveling to Scotland must have a UK visa. Applications start with an online application and then involve a visit to a Visa Application Centre.
It is increasingly difficult to secure UK visas and more and more of our members who have not used our systems are finding they are having visas rejected where once they were approved.
We are extremely happy to support members and find the UKVI officials with whom we deal responsive and professional. However, often members contact us very late in the process or after an application has been rejected.
We ask members to start as early as possible, ideally contacting Stuart Brown two months before the planned visit.
Our contacting UKVI at the last minute is unlikely to result in a visa being granted and undermines our collective agency in legitimately holding the UK Government to account in instances where visa applications from Malawi are mishandled.
Our Members’ partners still need to apply online, completing all the same documentation and submitting supporting evidence and bio-metrics in Malawi.
However, we can offer an official letter of support which can be included with the application, making clear this is endorsed by the Scotland Malawi Partnership. With the right details, crucially, we can also contact the UK Government directly in Pretoria so they know to expect the application and know it has our support.
Following this route, our members’ visa applications are categorised as low risk.
If requested, we can also offer a final letter of endorsement for the visitor to carry as they travel to Scotland, making clear our expectation that they are unencumbered as they enter the UK, given they have a valid UK visa, and giving officials a 24/7 SMP mobile phone number they can call if there are any doubts about the validity of the visit. Some Members find it reassuring to give this letter where their partner is visiting the UK for the first time but, in the majority of cases, once a UK visa is issued travel is relatively unproblematic.
We recommend members include as much information and evidence in with their partner’s visa application as possible.
To receive support from the SMP, Members should email Stuart Brown (ideally two months before travel) with:
- The unique reference number issued to the applicant which begins GWF (not the applicant payment receipt number). It is important that we receive this as soon as the applicant gets it please, so that we can offer support in the small window between the application being submitted and biometric enrolment.
- The full name of the individual/s as on the visa application.
- The dates of travel to and from the UK (as close as you can).
- The purpose of the visit and what it includes.
- Details about who is paying for the costs of travel. This is crucial because if it is the sponsor, we make this explicit in the supporting letter, asking the UK Government to therefore not take into account the material wealth of the individual travelling from Malawi (a common reason for rejection).
- Contact e-mail and mobile number for the lead contact in Scotland in case UKVI needs to get in touch.
- Any other details you feel are relevant.
We are extremely grateful to the UK Government for these channels which are working well for both Government and SMP members. We do not take this for granted.
However, we continue to take serious issue with the policy underpinning the UK’s visa system and specifically the way we feel those from Africa are particularly ill-treated through the system. We have been active for almost a decade now lobbying on this issue, including co-authoring a 2019 all-party parliamentary report.