Liaison officers as influential ‘immigration risk’ brokers in visa policy implementation: intermediaries across institutional and national borders

Ostrand, Nicole and Statham, Paul (2022) Liaison officers as influential ‘immigration risk’ brokers in visa policy implementation: intermediaries across institutional and national borders. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. pp. 1-25. ISSN 1369-183X

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Abstract

This article studies the hidden world of extraterritorial liaison officers, mid-level civil servants posted abroad whose agency influences UK visa implementation within a global framework. Specifically, we unpack their influential role in translating vague policy objectives into specific institutional justifications, norms, and practices, which bureaucrats apply when implementing visa decisions on location. ‘Risk’ knowledge production is crucial: they mobilise, broker and communicate so-called ‘immigration risks’ applied to specific foreign nationals across institutional levels and national boundaries. Liaison officers are intermediaries, ‘risk’ brokers, who: (a) interpret (and feedback on) the Home Office’s supposedly objective central ‘risk’ assessments; (b) construct ‘risk’ assessments based on local knowledge and intelligence to guide and legitimate street-level bureaucrats’ (consulate, airline) decisions; and (c) co-operate to a surprisingly high degree over ‘risk’ assessments with peers in Global North multi-state frameworks. Importantly, their interventions for the UK state effectively reinforces an unequal North–South global mobility regime. To examine how ally and target states are treated differently, we compare across France, USA, Thailand, Ghana, and Egypt. High state secrecy makes studying liaison officers difficult. Our original research applies document analysis of public policy statements, interventions via freedom of information requests, and interviews with twenty mid-level operational officers.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Liaison officers, immigration ‘risk’ assessment, UK visa policy implementation, extraterritorial immigration control, global mobility regime
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Geography
SWORD Depositor: Mx Elements Account
Depositing User: Mx Elements Account
Date Deposited: 10 Aug 2022 08:42
Last Modified: 10 Aug 2022 08:42
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/107326

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