Suspension of Tier 4 student applications in North India, Nepal and Bangladesh

Guy Freeman made this Freedom of Information request to UK Border Agency

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was partially successful.

Dear UK Border Agency,

According to http://www.bia.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecon..., "the UK Border Agency has announced that, from 1 February 2010, it is not accepting any new applications under the Tier 4 student route of the points-based system at the following visa application centres:
North India - New Delhi, Jalandhar and Chandigarh
Bangladesh - Dhaka, Sylhet and Chittagong
Nepal - Kathmandu"

Please provide, under the appropriate regulations of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, any internal documentation related to the decision to carry out this suspension. Please also provide any correspondence with external organisations (such as interested stakeholders) that relates to or arises out of this matter.

I look forward to a timely and comprehensive response.

Yours faithfully,

Guy Freeman

Freedom Of Information Team \( IND \), UK Border Agency

Dear Guy Freeman,

Your request is being considered under the Freedom of Information Act.
We will respond shortly.

Yours sincerely,

Freedom of information team

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Walker Lisa (UKBA International Group), UK Border Agency

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Freeman,

Please see my letter attached.

Regards,

Lisa

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Communications via the GSi may be automatically logged, monitored and/or
recorded for legal purposes.

Dear Ms. Walker,

Thank you for your response. I am afraid that I found it extremely unhelpful.

Under Section 16(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, "It shall be the duty of a public authority to provide advice and assistance, so far as it would be reasonable to expect the authority to do so, to persons who propose to make, or have made, requests for information to it." Under Section 16(2) of the Act, "Any public authority which, in relation to the provision of advice or assistance in any case, conforms with the code of practice under section 45 is to be taken to comply with the duty imposed by subsection (1) in relation to that case."

The code of practice as issued under Section 45 of the Act says, inter alia, 'Where an authority is not obliged to comply with a request for information because, under section 12(1) and regulations made under section 12, the cost of complying would exceed the "appropriate limit" (i.e. cost threshold) the authority should consider providing an indication of what, if any, information could be provided within the cost ceiling.'

I understand that the Section 12(1) exemption is the one you are (implicitly) citing, and so I would expect some indication of what information you believe I could get under the fee limit. You have not met this expectation; instead, you provided vague advice that I should restrict myself to "specifying the particular centre that you are interested in and/or any documentation". How can I be sure that my restriction will be sufficient?

Please indicate whether restricting my request to purely electronic internal communication (e.g. emails) will allow my request to be fulfilled. If so, please consider this as a new request; if not, please give me further advice on what information I am able to request on this matter that will not be exempt under Section 12(1) of the Act.

I look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely,

Guy Freeman

Walker Lisa (UKBA International Group), UK Border Agency

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Freeman,

Please see my letter attached.

Regards,

Lisa

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Dear Ms. Walker,

Thank you for your very helpful reply. I really appreciate the work you put into finding out how I can make my request fit under the fee limit.

Given what you suggest, I would like to refine my query as follows:

Please provide copies of any internal documents which outline the procedures and rules to need to be followed in order to suspend the Tier 4 student applications from North India, Nepal and Bangladesh, e.g. relevant laws and/or considerations that must be undertaken; and also any documents which assess the costs and benefits of such a decision. If possible, please also provide some item of correspondence from the Indian office concerning their opinion of this decision.

I hope this request can be fulfilled. If not, or if it is unclear, please don't hesitate to get back in touch.

Yours sincerely,

Guy Freeman

Walker Lisa \(UKBA International Group\), UK Border Agency

I am on leave and will be back in the office on Tuesday 13th April.
Please redirect your e-mail as follows:

Parliamentary Ombudsman complaints - Natalie Sillince
FOI Requests - Cliff Brown/Natalie Silince
DPA breaches - Allen Anie
DPA Policy - Lee Mcgirr

Thanks,
Lisa

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Communications via the GSi may be automatically logged, monitored and/or
recorded for legal purposes.

Dear Sir/Madam,

It seems that my Freedom of Information request (reference: FOI 14013 GV100/150969/LW) has been dropped due to my case officer Lisa Walker being on leave. Can it be dealt with as a matter of urgency to ensure that the statutory time limits for a response are met?

The latest form of my request, sent on the 22nd of March, is available here: http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/su...

Yours faithfully,

Guy Freeman

Freedom Of Information Team \( IND \), UK Border Agency

Dear Mr Freeman,
I can assure you that your request has not been dropped, it will be
considered by another caseworker in Lisa's absence.
Kind regards

Freedom of Information Team
UK Border Agency

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Walker Lisa (UKBA International Group), UK Border Agency

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Freeman,

Please see my letter attached.

Regards,

Lisa

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Communications via the GSi may be automatically logged, monitored and/or
recorded for legal purposes.

Dear Lisa,

Thank you for your response. Could I please have a copy of the request the Deputy Director for International Group submitted to Meg Hillier, and a copy (if it exists) of the approval from Ms. Hillier.

Thank you for all your help so far.

Yours sincerely,

Guy Freeman

Guy Freeman left an annotation ()

The full extent of the answer:

The International Group of the UK Border Agency confirms that there are no documents as such which outline the procedures and rules that need to be followed in order to suspend the Tier 4 student applications from North India, Nepal and Bangladesh.

The Regional Director is responsible for recommending such pauses in line with operational demands and in response to unexpectedly high numbers of student visa applications at this time of year.

The request for the pause was made by the Regional Director who is a member if the Senior Management Structure. The Deputy Director for International Group then submitted the request to Meg Hillier who approved the decision.

Freedom Of Information Team \( IND \), UK Border Agency

Dear Guy Freeman

Thank you for your follow up FOI request. Your new request Re: FOI 14815
is being dealt with under the FOI Act and we will respond shortly.

Kind Regards

UKBA
FOI Team



Could I please have a copy of the
request the Deputy Director for International Group submitted to
Meg Hillier, and a copy (if it exists) of the approval from Ms.
Hillier.



Communications via the GSi may be automatically logged, monitored
and/or
recorded for legal purposes.

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Walker Lisa (UKBA International Group), UK Border Agency

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Freeman,

Please see my letter attached.

Regards,

Lisa

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Guy Freeman left an annotation ()

An exemption under Section 36 [Prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs] will be considered.

Walker Lisa (UKBA International Group), UK Border Agency

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Freeman,

Please see my letter attached.

Regards,

Lisa

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Communications via the GSi may be automatically logged, monitored and/or
recorded for legal purposes.

Guy Freeman left an annotation ()

Reply delayed until 12th July! All for considering one exemption to releasing two letters...

Dear Lisa,

Thank you for the update. I do hope this is the last delay. I look forward to receiving the information as soon as practicable.

Yours sincerely,

Guy Freeman

VSD DPA - FOI Enquiries, UK Border Agency

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Freeman,

Please see my letter attached.

Regards,

Lisa

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Communications via the GSi may be automatically logged, monitored and/or
recorded for legal purposes.

Dear UK Border Agency,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of UK Border Agency's handling of my FOI request 'Suspension of Tier 4 student applications in North India, Nepal and Bangladesh' (ref: 14815).

You have refused to provide any information relevant to my request, claiming that it is in its entirety exempt under Section 35(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. I dispute this on a number of different grounds:

1) You claim in favour of non-disclosure that "Advice given to Ministers should be broad-based and there may be a deterrent effect on external experts or stakeholders who might be reluctant, in future, to provide advice because it might be disclosed". However, the ICO provides clear guidance that this is not an acceptable reason to apply a Section 35 exemption.

2) The Section 35 exemption refers to "the formulation or development of government policy", not departmental policy. As you yourself pointed out in earlier correspondence, this decision was able to be carried out by the Regional Director, who "is responsible for recommending such pauses in line with operational demands and in response to unexpectedly high numbers of student visa applications at this time of year". Therefore the information I request cannot be considered exempt under Section 35.

3) The amount of time since a decision has been taken should be taken into account. The suspension started in February 2010 and ended in March 2010. The sensitivity of the information will therefore be markedly reduced.

4) I did not ask for the background to the decision, only two pieces of correspondence. I cannot believe that they in their entirety constitute material exempt under Section 35.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/su...

I would also like you to address the amount of time it took for me to receive the information.

Yours faithfully,

Guy Freeman

Information Access, UK Border Agency

1 Attachment

Please see attached for your attention.

Information Management Service | Financial and Commercial Group | Lower
Ground Floor | Seacole Building | Home Office | 2 Marsham Street |
London SW1P 4DF
<<Mr Freeman .pdf>>

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FoI ref: 14815

Dear Sir/Madam,

I believe the internal review was promised to be completed on the 3rd of September. Can you update me with regards to its current status?

Yours faithfully,

Guy Freeman

Information Access, UK Border Agency

Dear Mr Freeman

Thank you for your email of 6th September 2010.

Information Access team are still investigating your internal review and
are aiming to get a response to you by 14th September.

Kind Regards

Information Access Team

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Information Access, UK Border Agency

Dear Mr Freeman,

I would like to apologise on behalf of the Department for the delay in
responding to your Freedom of Information request. We require further
information regarding your request and will send you a full reply as soon
as we can. We now aim to send you a full reply by 17 September.

Kind Regards

Information Access Team

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Communications via the GSi may be automatically logged, monitored and/or
recorded for legal purposes.

FOI Responses, UK Border Agency

Dear Mr Freeman

I would like to apologise for the delay in responding to your internal
review request. Your review is currently in the process of being approved
and a response will be sent to you by Wednesday 22^nd September.

I thank you for your patience in this matter.

Regards

Information Access Team

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Communications via the GSi may be automatically logged, monitored and/or
recorded for legal purposes.

Information Access, UK Border Agency

1 Attachment

Please see attached for your attention.

Information Management Service | Financial and Commercial Group | Lower
Ground Floor | Seacole Building | Home Office | 2 Marsham Street | London
SW1P 4DF

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Communications via the GSi may be automatically logged, monitored and/or
recorded for legal purposes.

Guy Freeman left an annotation ()

"My conclusion is that the original response was incorrect. Section 35 (1) (a) was not engaged, however
after discussions with UKBA, section 35 (1) (e) may apply to part of your request. I have asked UKBA to review its decision, and release the majority of
the submission which wil be sent to you by UKBA."

This will be by the 12th of October, according to another part of the document. It is ambiguous whether (some of) the material MUST be released or whether the UKBA can still withhold everything after re-consideration of the new exemption.

Dear Sir/Madam,

Thank you for your internal review which ruled mostly in my favour. As part of the report you wrote:

14. Following the careful consideration of Mr Freeman’s request and UKBA’s response, UKBA has been asked to review its decision and release the majority of the submission. This information will follow by 12th October.

Today is the 17th of October and I have received no information. Please ensure I am supplied with the information I am entitled to according to the internal review as soon as possible.

Yours faithfully,

Guy Freeman

Guy Freeman left an annotation ()

Complaint sent to ICO.

Brook Adrian, UK Border Agency

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Freeman

We understand from the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) that you
have not received the information which was promised to you following the
internal review of your FoI request of 27 April 2010.

We understand that the information was sent to you by the UK Border Agency
(UKBA) under cover of an e-mail dated 10 November 2010, which for reasons
which are not apparent did not reach you. The original e-mail is no
longer held, but I attach a pdf of the e-mail and the attachments.

I apologise for the fact that the information did not reach you before
now.

I am copying this e-mail to the ICO.

Regards

Adrian Brook

Information Access Team

Information Management Service

Ground Floor, Seacole Building (NW)

Home Office

2 Marsham Street

London SW1P 4DF

Tel. 020 7035 1022

External e-mail [1][email address]

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Communications via the GSi may be automatically logged, monitored and/or
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