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The High Cost of Visa Rejections: Pakistanis Pay Millions in Unsuccessful UK and Schengen Visa Applications

In a recent revelation, research conducted by Lago Collective, a consortium of researchers, policymakers, and designers, has shed light on the substantial financial implications of visa rejections for Pakistani nationals. The study, which was published in collaboration with EUobserver, indicates that Pakistani applicants spent a staggering £5.3 million on UK visa applications and €3.344 million on Schengen visa applications in 2023, all of which were ultimately rejected.

The rejection rates for these visa applications were alarmingly high, with approximately 40% of UK visa applications and 50% of Schengen visa applications from Pakistan being denied. These figures translate into significant financial losses for the applicants, who are required to pay non-refundable visa application fees regardless of the outcome.

The research further revealed that the European Union (EU) governments amassed an annual total of €130 million from fees associated with rejected visa applications, a phenomenon referred to as 'reverse remittances’. This term signifies the flow of money from poorer to wealthier nations, highlighting the stark inequality in global visa regimes.

Marta Foresti, founder of Lago Collective and a senior visiting fellow at the Overseas Development Institute, expressed concern over the high rejection rates and the substantial costs borne by Pakistani nationals. She emphasized the need to address these issues, particularly given the strong ties between Pakistan, Europe, and the UK.

The report also indicated that the total sum of visa application fees is likely to increase in 2024. The Schengen visa application fee for adults is set to rise from €80 to €90 starting from June 11. Meanwhile, the UK visa application fee is also expected to see a significant increase. This anticipated hike in visa application fees could potentially lead to a further increase in the number of rejected visas in 2024.

The research also pointed out that the actual costs associated with visa applications are likely to be much higher than the basic application fee. This is due to the involvement of private agencies in processing visa applications and the provision of additional services by brokers along the way.

The financial implications of visa rejections extend beyond the application fees. The inability to travel for business or leisure also results in massive losses for all those involved.

The high visa rejection rates for Pakistani nationals applying for UK and Schengen visas can be attributed to a variety of factors. Incomplete or incorrect documentation, lack of proof of financial stability, previous visa rejections, and criminal records are among the common reasons for visa denials. Additionally, inadequate travel insurance, unclear purpose of visit, and insufficient ties to the home country can also lead to visa rejections. High visa fees, which often equate to the average wage in Pakistan, can pose a substantial barrier for many applicants.

Political factors can also play a role in visa rejections. For instance, strained political relations between countries can influence visa decisions. It is important to note that these reasons may not apply to every individual case, as each visa application is evaluated on its own merits. Therefore, it is always recommended for applicants to seek advice from immigration experts or legal professionals when applying for a visa. This can help ensure that they have the best possible chance of having their visa application approved.

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