Glasgow & West Scotland

Church of Scotland 'deeply concerned' by visa refusal

UK Border Agency officers Image copyright PA

The Church of Scotland has said it is "deeply concerned" by a Home Office decision to deny two Pakistani Christians entry into the UK.

The men were invited to Scotland by the Kirk as part of plans to twin Glasgow Presbytery with the Diocese of Hyderabad.

Their visa applications have been refused twice over finance concerns.

The Kirk warned the decision could have consequences for future international events organised by the church.

Glasgow Presbytery's joint clerk, the Rev Graham Blount, said: "We are deeply concerned at the refusal of the UK government to grant visas to two of our invited partners, despite the Church of Scotland guaranteeing their travel arrangements as well as their accommodation and subsistence while they are here."

'Depressed and shocked'

The Kirk provided extracts from the response to the visa applications, which stated immigration officials were "not satisfied [the men were] genuinely seeking entry as a general visitor for a limited period as stated".

It added: "...unless financial circumstances change, future applications are likely to be refused. The refusal is not subject to appeal or administrative review."

Mr Blount said the two men were left "depressed and shocked" at the response.

He added: "We are particularly worried that the UK Border Agency's stance threatens to frustrate not only our twinning link but also other major international events - like the World Council of Churches General Assembly, for which a bid is currently being considered - in the future, if only those whose personal finances meet the criteria are likely to be granted visas."

A UK government spokeswoman said: "We do not routinely comment on individual cases."

Image caption The delegation were part of a plans to twin Glasgow Presbytery with the Diocese of Hyderabad

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