05 January 2015
YWAM faces government action
The international volunteer organisation YWAM is being warned it could be downgraded by the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) office, due to clerical issues with its administration process.
In September 2014, Evangelical Alliance member YWAM England and Wales was inspected by UKVI to review the status as a visa sponsor, which allows the organisation to bring missionaries and their families to the UK.
The inspection found YWAM complies with five of the seven areas audited, but found clerical errors with the following two. Plans were formed to solve these issues immediately, YWAM claim, but they then received notice on 23 December that their licence had been suspended for 20 working days.
During this time, YWAM are able to respond to the issues found, but if the complaints are upheld the license to sponsor visas could be revoked completely.
If this happens, the 350 missionary families volunteering for YWAM in the UK, half of the current workforce, will have 60 days to leave the country.
YWAM said it would "inevitably mean shutting down" some of the training and service opportunities in this nation and abroad, and believes this inspection follows the government's pledge to reduce immigration figures in September 2014.
"While we recognise and support the UKVI's legitimate right to concern over compliance to the rules, we do not feel that the issues raised in the letter from the UKVI justify such a draconian outcome as losing our licence would produce," the charity said.
"We are cautiously hopeful that through dialogue and by demonstrating our determination to follow the regulations as carefully as possible they will allow us to continue our operations in the UK as part of a global charitable faith-based movement.
"We recognise that YWAM has never been the type of organisation which fits neatly into boxes. Nonetheless, we are doing everything we can to comply with the law and ensure that our missionaries remain a blessing to the UK and, through our YWAM England and Wales teams, to the rest of the world that YWAM seeks to share the love of Christ with."
The Alliance member is now asking for prayer for a "favourable resolution" to the inquiry and is urging supporters to write to their MP before 20 January 2015, when the final decision will be made.
Image: YWAM volunteer