Effective “amnesty” in UK asylum system, says report

The House of Commons Home Affairs Committee has today published a report, The work of the UK Border Agency (November 2010–March 2011), which accuses the UKBA of effectively creating an amnesty for hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers whose cases have been delayed for years.

The report is not particularly easy to find online – it should be available on the Home Affairs Committee website, but isn’t for some reason. You can download a PDF here, see the previous reports here or read on this page via Scribd.

As has been picked up in media reports, the report concludes that the UKBA’s success in clearing a backlog of around 400,000 to 450,000 unresolved asylum cases has been achieved

through increasing resort to grants of permission to stay… or the parking of cases in a controlled archive, signifying that the applicant cannot be found and the Agency has no idea whether or not the applicant remains in the UK, legally or otherwise.

The committee also state that it is “indefensible” that

about 74,500 of the 400– 450,000 cases—approximately one in six—the UK Border Agency has been completely unable to trace what has happened to the applicant.

Finally, the way the backlog has been dealt with effectively amounts to an “amnesty”

We understand that Ministers would have been unwilling to announce an amnesty for the applicants caught up in this backlog, not least because this might be interpreted as meaning that the UK was prepared more generally to relax its approach towards migration; but we consider that in practice an amnesty has taken place, at considerable cost to the taxpayer.

Aside from the “legacy lump” (in the words of The Economist) There is also a “new backlog”, the size of which is not clear.

As to immigration in general, the committee repeats its view that it is a “mistake to include students as ‘migrants’ unless or until the student makes an application or demonstrates the intention to wish to settle”. It also highlights the problem of hundreds of thousands of immigrants overstaying their visas.

On the new points based system for immigration,

[it] can function effectively only if there is confidence that sponsors will not abuse the system and that anyone who no longer qualifies for leave to remain is compelled to leave the UK.

As to media reports that the Government is considering abolishing the right of appeal for those reused entry clearance to visit family members:

it would not be appropriate for the authorities to be judge and jury when refusals occur, and the matter is pursued by solicitors or MPs making representations on behalf of the sponsors.

See also this summary by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants. The full report is reproduced below.

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3 thoughts on “Effective “amnesty” in UK asylum system, says report

  1. Here is an interesting opinion by the Migrants Rights Network

    Coalition must stop making undeliverable promises on immigration

    http://www.leftfootforward.org/2011/06/coalition-must-stop-making-undeliverable-promises-on-immigration/

    Mostly with regards to the amnesty bit.

    [here is the quote]

    Is resolving asylum legacy cases really an ‘amnesty’?

    Coverage of the ‘amnesty’ that has supposedly taken place is distorting the facts. An ‘amnesty’ is defined as a measure which resolves the status of people who are unlawfully residing in a country. But the asylum legacy cases refer to people who entered the UK, legitimately lodged an asylum claim, and then simply didn’t receive an answer from the Home Office.

  2. I have seen previous job vacancies on the UKBA website for presenting officers. Full training was given and no legal experience or qualifications required. I was unable to apply at the time as I was half way through a LLM degree. Having been called in 2009 and unable to obtain pupillage, such a paid role, rather than pro-bono would have been ideal for me and many other Bar graduates in order to obtain real advocacy experience. These jobs are, however, not available as there is currently a recruitment freeze, no doubt as a consequence of the Governments cuts.

    There is a real opportunity here, I know many BVC graduates who would be willing to undertake this kind of role and this would no doubt make some difference, no matter how slight, to the back-log of cases and avoid hearings taking place with no presenting officers. It appears that presenting officers not turning up is a real contributor to the mass of files still sitting on desks and to those cases where the UKBA have not been successful.

  3. Steve is right to point out that people better trained than the UKBA’s present staff will help the agency.

    With respect to sponsorship duties nowadays its the UKBA who is abusing the schools by shutting them down to implement the “immigration cap” whereas the abusers (the Cambridge College of Learning lot) are free to roam the UK and spend their unlawfully made millions!

    Nice one @AdamWagner1 !

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