One of the Church of Scotland’s leading clerics has condemned the immigration authorities’ refusal to issue UK visas to two Christians from Pakistan.
The Glasgow Presbytery had invited the two men to the city as part of celebrations to twin the Presbytery with the Diocese of Hyderabad in Pakistan. They have applied twice for UK visas but on both occasions, their applications were turned down because officials were concerned about their finances.
Now the Church of Scotland has spoken out about its concern that this may set a precedent when it is trying to organise international events. It’s worried the policy may prevent overseas Christians from coming to Britain.
Glasgow Presbytery's joint clerk, the Rev Graham Blount, told the BBC: “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.”
Mr Blount said that both men were “depressed and shocked” by the decision, which he believes could impact other events such as the World Council of Churches General Assembly, which the Church of Scotland is considering bidding to host.
The official documents rejecting the two visa applications said that officials were not convinced the men were “genuinely seeking entry as a general visitor for a limited period as stated.
“Unless financial circumstances change, future applications are likely to be refused. The refusal is not subject to appeal or administrative review.”
The Church is now worried a precedent could be set which would see only those whose personal finances at a certain level being granted visas to enter the UK.
The Home Office said it did not routinely comment on individual cases.