MPs warn of immigration case backlog

For some people, gaining the right to live and work in the UK is not easy, so it is no surprise that there is demand for the services provided by immigration lawyers.

The issue of immigration has been in the headlines a lot over recent months and in July a group of MPs warned that the backlog of immigration cases at Britain’s border service had reached half a million. At the current rate, this could take almost 40 years to clear, the politicians claimed.

In its latest report into the work of the UK Border Agency, which was disbanded by the home secretary Theresa May in March this year, the Home Affairs Select Committee alleged that the move to scrap the agency and replace it with two new divisions was in danger of being simply an “exercise in rebranding”.

Commenting on the situation, committee chairman Keith Vaz said: “The backlog of cases has now hit a staggering half a million people. This could fill Wembley Stadium to capacity six times over. At the current rate it will take 37 years to clear and the Home Office cannot confirm that this is the last of the backlogs.”

He added: “Theresa May described the UK Border Agency as ‘closed, secretive and defensive’, however, despite abolition nothing appears to have changed apart from the name. If people at the top are not replaced this will only be an exercise in rebranding as has happened in previous reincarnations. There should be no more bonuses paid to any senior management at the Home Office until the backlogs are cleared.”

Responding to the comments, immigration minister Mark Harper stated: “The UK Border Agency was a troubled organisation for many years, which is why the home secretary took the decision to split the agency in March this year. The new UK Visas and Immigration Service has a clear focus to improve visa performance and customer service, while the Immigration Enforcement Command concentrates on those who break our immigration laws. Both now report directly to ministers, delivering greater transparency and accountability. It will take a long time to clear the backlogs we inherited – but through the changes we have made we are in a much stronger position to do so.”

The Home Affairs Select Committee also called for clarification concerning the increased use of third-party consultants. It discovered that during the last financial quarter of 2012, spending on external consultants at the agency increased to over £500,000. This compared with £27,000 during the previous three-month period.

About this, the group stated: “The use of external consultants has been actively discouraged across Whitehall as spending cuts take their toll on budgets. We expect the Home Office to clarify why this huge increase has occurred.”

People having difficulty with visa applications can turn to specialist immigration solicitors for assistance. This can make the process smoother and less stressful. The laws governing immigration are often complex and so having access to expert guidance can make a real difference to individuals’ outcomes.


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