Following an investigation on applications to remain in Britain on the basis of marriage by Chief Inspector of Boarders and Immigration, John Vine, a backlog of over 16,000 unresolved cases were discovered, over 2000 of which were simply found dumped in boxes. Mr. Vine described the situation as ‘completely unacceptable’ and stated that it was important that ‘ management of the UKBA and Border Force does its own homework and knows what demands it has on its own operation.’
The backlog has seen 73% of the people have claimed asylum here in the UK and could not be removed until a decision was made, 36% had stayed in Britain still awaiting a decision on their appeal or even simply a decision on their initial claim and most unfortunately some applicants were found to be waiting up to 10 years for decision with others simply being forgotten.
Some have attributed the backlog to the HMRC’s lack of attention to policy and proper investigation. Due to the policy that only 3000 financial checks a year (250 a month) may be carried out, tens of thousands of application were simply being rubber-stamped without a face-to-face interviews or even checks on applicants’ wage slips, P60 forms and other financial data, as caseworkers and officials were using up their check allowance within a few days at the start of each month. UKBA staff stated that 14,000 of the 16,000 discovered cases were on hold because of the fact that there was ‘no policy’ to deal with them. This lack of prudence completely undermines the principal rule that migrants must be able to support themselves and their families without relying on the state.
While UKBA sympathisers may agree that UKBA caseworkers are doing the best they can, the guise of mountains of documentation can often detract from the truth that the delays and uncertainty play a very real and very large impact on peoples’ lives. One Gerard Hearne, of Rotherham, explained how he had been waiting almost 10 months for a decision on the visa of his wife from Thailand, stating that for those 10 months he has been ‘trying to get through each day’, some days he feels ‘briefly OK’ and others he feels ‘so low and so down.’
However, despite this somewhat bleak outlook on the current situation of immigration in the UK, Immigration Minister Mark Harper seemed positive that the UKBA would recover. He was quoted as stating that ‘We have put in place a new chief executive, we have got strength in the management team’ and that ‘we are making progress.’
While Mr. Harper may seem positive, the facts point to the obvious truth the backlog has exposed a vey serious situation within the UK, that if left unchecked could see tens of thousands of families being separated for a very long time.