H.E. Hill: Officers in Sofia to Decide on UK Business Visas

Novinite Insider » INTERVIEW | June 25, 2004, Friday // 00:00
H.E. Hill: Officers in Sofia to Decide on UK Business Visas Photo by Yuliana Nikolova (novinite.com)

UK Ambassador to Bulgaria H.E. Jeremy Hill started his career in the Diplomatic Service in 1982 when he was appointed Assistant Legal Adviser. From 1987 to 1990 Hill was Legal Adviser at the British Embassy in Bonn and between 1991 and 1995 he worked as Legal Counsellor in the Attorney General's Office in London. Jeremy Hill's next appointment (1995-1998) was as a Counsellor for the Legal, Justice and Home Affairs in Brussels. From 1999 to 2001 he headed the Southern European Department in the FCO, and thereafter he was appointed Ambassador to Vilnius. He presented his credentials to President Georgi Parvanov on February 18, 2004. Jeremy Hill is married and has a daughter and a son.

H.E. Jeremy Hill answered questions of Novinite.com Editor-in-Chief Milena Hristova

Q: What recommendations were made after the checks on the exploitation of a visa scheme in Bulgaria and Romania?

A: The Home Secretary has accepted the recommendations of a report by a senior civil servant, Ken Sutton, concerning the operation of the European Community Association Agreement. There were 15 recommendations in total.

In future, decisions on the "business visa" applications under the Agreement would be taken at post, in other words by entry clearance officers in Sofia.

New guidance would be drawn up to help these officers to decide the applications. A team comprising Home Office and Foreign Office officials would shortly visit Sofia to establish the new approach.

The relevant immigration rules will be rewritten and make clear that applicants will be required to have sufficient funds to support themselves in the UK.

Q: Will the Embassy in Sofia introduce new regulations regarding the issuance of visas?

A: Visa services for this category of application, under the Association Agreement, remain suspended for the moment. When they do resume, our entry clearance officers will be operating under new guidance.

Q: When do you expect a concrete decision on the issuance of business visas?

A: I cannot yet put a date on resumption of services for this category of visas. We first have to put in place all the necessary procedures, checks and resources to deal with a resumption of services.

Q: How do you view claims that the tightening of the immigration flow will hurt mostly the British company?

A: In adopting a more robust approach, we are not aiming to discourage the genuine, serious businessperson. The new procedures will be designed so that we can detect more easily the applications which are not genuine or which cannot be substantiated.

Q: Can you cite figures about the number of vacancies in British companies?

A: I do not have figures available for this.

Q: Does British companies prefer to hire Eastern Europeans? Why?

I am not able to comment on the preferences of British companies. This is a matter for them.

Q: Do you think the media overlooked the benefits that immigrants bring to the country in presenting the visa scheme issue?

A: I cannot comment on the way the media presented the issue.

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