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UK government refuses visas for Edinburgh book festival authors

In the UK, about a dozen authors who were planning to attend this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival (EIBF) have had their visas refused, reports the Guardian.

Many of the authors were from Middle East and African countries, with one author from Belarus. Each had their applications refused at least once, and several remain outstanding, despite some authors being due to appear at the festival within a week.

This year’s festival will be hosting 900 authors and illustrators from 55 countries. The festival routinely provides assistance for visa applications, and over the last few years the festival has seen a jump in visa refusals.

Festival director Nick Barley said that some ‘Kafkaesque’ visa requirements asked of authors included showing three years’ worth of bank statements, biometric testing, and presenting birth certificates and marriage certificates as part of the application process.

Barley told the Guardian that they had to draw on the help of government officials, including MPs, ambassadors and senior people in the British Council and Home Office to overturn visa decisions. ‘We’ve realised it is systematic … We want to talk about it and resolve it, not just for [this festival], but for cultural organisations UK-wide. The amount of energy, money and time that has gone into this is problematic. There needs to be a fix.’

UK government data shows refusals for visitor visa applications from the Middle East have increased in the last 10 years. In 2007, 18% of 5248 applications by Syrian nationals were refused, but in 2016 refusals increased to 68%, despite applications dropping to 3695.



Category: International news