The Home Office, UKBA and the UK embassies are nothing but a disgrace
You shouldn't have got me started, this is going to be lengthy...
My wife is African and getting her papers sorted was a lot of trouble already. As her husband I was the "sponsor" of her application, but the Home Office didn't have that information on file as their data entry department (which they refuse to put you through to or contact themselves) has not filled the sponsor in (such an application cannot be made without a sponsor) and the call centre doesn't have access to the original documents. So I wasn't allowed to discuss the various problems they caused and my wife's understanding of the rules and regulations as well as her at the time limited English prevented her from doing so herself.
They suggested she send a fax authorising me to discuss the case which we immediately did, but you can only fax the data entry department not the call centre and they never entered the authorisation we had sent either, so the call centre continued to refuse discussing the case with me. I wasn't able to set up a conference call with Africa and so had to resort to emails (largely ignored) and letters (eventually effective) as even a second auth fax wasn't entered, not even weeks after having been sent.
It was a huge and consuming struggle to get this sorted and since then we have occasionally had the desire to invite family of hers over and we've done so. The first application in which we proved to my mind to have enough money to pay for all the expected costs and then some was refused on the grounds that we allegedly didn't. So I asked how much cash they would consider sufficient and the response was that they couldn't say as each case was different. Yes, of course, I replied but you've just looked at this case, you must have an idea of how much you require to be able to tell me that I don't have enough. They still refused to say. So we took a 10 grand loan (fixed values such as mortgage-free home ownership don't count, only cash in the bank and proof of likely future income i.e. a job) for which we paid a hefty £1200 interest over 18 months for the second application to go through. Which it amazingly did.
Our visitor was going to take an English course that was the basis of the student visitor visa he had applied for. You've got to book this course before applying and then the schools charge you an admin fee every time you have to postpone the start date because of the Home Office's incompetence -- or is that malice.
In addition to that, the price for the student visitor visa was well advertised on their website, yet the embassy insisted charging the full student visa price and refused to accept the application until that was paid. After a long struggle we eventually got the difference for the first application back, but they still insisted the higher price be paid for the second application and at some point I gave up the fight to have that refunded. And that is even when you bring a print-out of the Home Office website that details the prices and proves them wrong. They just won't look at it but up in the air and tell the applicant: This is the fee, pay it or we won't accept your application.
My wife's passport (not her UK visa) was due to expire while she was out of the country and we had organised that I could pick up her delayed new passport from her country's embassy to bring it to her. Then elections in her home country brought about troubles and the UK accepted the opposition who was largely believed to have won and installed their ambassador in the UK. A decision I generally applaud, but since the ex-President refuses to leave and has the military and passport provision still under his control and refuses to work with the opposition's ambassador we're unable to get her new passport. So I've tried and tried to get the UKBA to confirm in writing that her UK driving license, her valid UK visa plus her expired passport along with proof that she's living and working in the UK etc. be enough for her to be let in on the return journey. They obviously refuse to do that, because they assert it's not their problem and as a result the carriers (plane, train, ferry) refuse to take her. If they did and the UKBA decided not to allow my wife in, then the carrier would have to pay several grand penalty fee. And I suspect the carriers have been burnt often enough when being reasonable and understanding to customers such as us, then facing the profit-greedy and perfectly unreasonable UKBA the other end.
It's also next to impossible to get through to the UKBA to discuss special cases such as this as their call centres welcome you with a message that they'd rather have you look on their website (hardly helpful in this case), then give you unclear options, when you work through those and seemingly get near an actual human being, they tell you that because of high call volumes - which they always seem to have - they can't take your call at the moment and then instead of keeping you in the loop drop your call. So you have to redial, wait again, pick the option in the menu... ad infinitum. That's making it impossible to get work done (as, I observe, is writing this rant) while trying to get through to them and prevents you from trying as much as you'd have to to actually get through. But then special cases are not likely to generate a profit, so that's probably a feature, not a bug.
F*** the UKBA.