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We applied for a visitor visa from Bangladesh to attend a convocation ceremony in the UK. We were handed refusal letters from the VAC. The refusal letter outlined reasons that were clearly from other applications. For instance, the refusal letter mentioned employment details such as company name and salary that are clearly not mine. It also referenced bank statements and large transactions in the said bank statement - but that bank statement from the specified financial institution is definitely not mine.

We also had a phone interview few days ago, and there is no mention of that phone interview in the refusal notice.

I could not believe it when I read the refusal notice, but it seems like they completely mixed up our visa application with someone else's. Obviously, we do not want to re-apply and pay a hefty application fee. This is a mistake on their part and very unfair to us. How should we proceed?

  • 1
    Email the embassy. Tell them they have obviously made a mistake. – greatone Jun 26 '17 at 0:25
  • gov.uk/contact-ukvi-inside-outside-uk/y/outside-the-uk/english Use that service yesterday – Hanky Panky Jun 26 '17 at 10:54
  • We didn't show it to the VAC attendant. We called the VAC once we reviewed the refusal, and they said there wasn't much they could do. We emailed the embassy, and also used the service Hanky Panky mentioned. – user63099 Jun 26 '17 at 12:00
12
+50

Update 29 July 2017

The OP chose "Option 4" from the list below and had a satisfactory result. This option has the advantage of being the most accessible to applicants. I have never been a big fan of "Option 4" and the OP's narrative exposes TWO vital prerequisite for those contemplating this option...

  • a high tolerance for frustration; and
  • the willingness to persist in chasing the them;

Additionally there's an implicit requirement to have lots of time available. If you meet those prerequisites, then "Option 4" below would be your first path of recourse.

Finally, remember that this situation is about a clearly evident screw up where someone's confidentiality was jeopardised. These options are not available for applicants who are disappointed about their refusal notices and want their evidence examined again.


Original Answer

UK visa applications originating in Bangladesh are taken in by the commercial partners situated in Dhaka or Sylhet. From there, they are sent to THE decision-making hub in New Delhi. Usually New Delhi will handle it, but they have the option to pass the application on to the Mumbai section. Notwithstanding your own misfortune, the New Delhi team has a sterling silver reputation as a high performance unit.

Based on what you wrote, your paperwork got mixed up with someone else's refusal notice. This is a profoundly serious breach of privacy and immediate representations should be made at the highest level, possibly up to and including the India Desk.

Option 1

Since visa sections are ring-fenced against engagement with the public (to help avert corruption), you may experience difficulty in contacting them directly. So you can fax/email the Visa Application Centre that handled your application and make representations. You can also ask the people hosting the convocation to contact their MP regarding a serious breach of privacy and a break-down in the visa handling pipeline and to assign their caseworker as a high priority.

Option 2

If time is short and you feel the matter is urgent enough, you can instruct a UK solicitor with a practice area in Bangladesh applicants to make representations on your behalf. This would be the fastest way (same day) because they have a direct line into Marsham Street and commensurately the most expensive.

Option 3

You can wait it out. Handling visas is the business they are in and they will certainly discover the problem in post-processing. When they do discover it (not if they discover it, they will discover it), a suitably ranking member of the visa section will contact you by phone or email. Since I'm guessing that you were in the refusal pipeline, they will ask you to confirm that you have destroyed the wrong refusal notice and get the proper notice to you.

One of the things they particularly like to do in these situations is to credit your account such that your next application will be gratis. It keeps them in good stead with the Chief Inspector.

Option 4

You can try to use their international help desk. I list this option only as a formality because they have a help desk. It is likely to be less effective than the others, but everyone has a different story to tell about how good/bad they are. They have introduced a cost for this service.


That identifies four options for you. You can select the most appropriate and proceed. On a personal note, I suggest that your communications with whomever stay focused on resolution. They will already know they screwed up and somebody will be in trouble, so there's no point in getting their backs up by introducing inflammatory language.

  • Can there possibly be one more option in this list? Apply again and list this mixup there in the notes? Obviously that wont make the application stronger but it can surely serve as a quick contact with them with a reasonable cost? – Hanky Panky Jul 27 '17 at 8:51
  • @HankyPanky a fresh application is a panacea for almost everything, it's not included, perhaps should be, but remember that the OP did not reveal anything about the return of his evidence... that's a vital prerequisite for a fresh application. There's also a hint that a refusal notice will be the result of this one, and we don't want to get in to a serial refusals situation. But otherwise fine, good idea! – Gayot Fow Jul 27 '17 at 9:18
  • Thank you for such a detailed answer, Gayot. I appreciate it. If you are interested, please refer to my answer about how I ended up handling the situation. – user63099 Jul 28 '17 at 21:33
9

TL;DR: Approached the international help desk, emailed the New Delhi office at an address I found online. Not sure what worked, but they asked us to resubmit our documents, and we got the visa.

Gayot has provided an excellent guide about how to handle the situation. I approached the international help desk (Option 4).

When we first discovered the mistake, we called the VFS that processed our application and they said they are not able to handle requests for reviews. When we insisted that this was not a review per se, but rather a request for correction, they said that we could at best try to email the high commission. This was misleading, as the high commission doesn't respond to visa inquiries at all.

We found an email address for the New Delhi office from which we had previously received communication. We emailed that address outlining our situation. But we weren't sure if it was a monitored email address.

We then approached the international help desk. At the time the phone lines were not available, so we used the paid email service. After 24 hours, we decided to call them since we hadn't heard back. They listened to what we had to say, and asked us to send some more information via email, such as date of biometrics and some information that wasn't available when we were on the phone. When we did that, they sent an email stating that we were not eligible for a review.

I called them again and had to repeat the same series of events, and one agent said that they are going to escalate the issue.

I called back within 48 hours to check if there was an update, since the date of convocation was approaching quickly. When I asked about a timeline, they said it could take up to 15 business days to hear back.

I called back shortly after, because I got a sense that they didn't have a process around raising the urgency for rare issues such as mine. I spoke with a rep for 30 minutes, and after I insisted repeatedly and made my case to them, they said that they were going to arrange a review. I was a little puzzled at this, since the language previous reps used was "escalation" and not a "review". As we were finishing up details, the phone got disconnected - it happened at the 30 minute mark.

I was extremely frustrated at this point. I had already spent an inordinate amount of time waiting on the phone and spending 1.37 pounds per minute in addition to international calling charges. I called them again, and this time the rep said they were going to escalate it and it would take 15 business days.

The next day, I got an email asking me to go to the VFS with my passport and documents.

When we got to the VFS center, they seemed to have no clue about this - they asked us about our appointment and such. But we got them to accept our documents.

About a couple of weeks later, we called VFS and they said that our passports had arrived. We found out that we were issued visas.

**I will post the exact timeline of events later.

  • Glad this finally got worked out, and thanks for coming back to share what happened. I'd be curious whether they'd ever refund your fees for all the phone calls since this was clearly their mistake. – Zach Lipton Jul 28 '17 at 21:57
  • You're welcome. I didn't approach them about it. I doubt they will reimburse me, and at this point I'm happy to have resolved the situation. – user63099 Jul 28 '17 at 22:17
  • I am not a great fan of "Option 4" but your narrative describes a personal experience that worked out well. You reached a happy ending and now all's well. – Gayot Fow Jul 29 '17 at 3:58

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