13 January 2011

Over 60,000 asylum seekers missing in UK immigration backlog

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An estimated 60,000 asylum seekers are lost after a backlog of UK immigration claims has stalled processing, a new critial report has found.

UK immigration

A backlog in UK immigration claims is in part blamed for the high number of missing asylum seekers.

The UK immigration applicants will be left in limbo with their claims added to a growing pile of applications unlikely to ever be resolved, the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee said. 

Of the backlog of up to 450,000 claims identified in 2006, some dating back more than a decade, at least one in seven cases will be concluded because the UK Border Agency has been completely unable to trace what has happened to the applicant.

The committee found that the backlog was attributed to "at least in part to inadequate decision-making in the first instance".

"While we agree that the UK Border Agency should not spend unlimited time trying to track down missing applicants, we are concerned about the high proportion of cases which will be left, in effect, in limbo," the report said.

"Again, this points to the vital need to deal with cases as expeditiously as possible and not to let backlogs grow."

Keith Vaz, the committee's chairman, said much of the delay in concluding asylum and other immigration cases stems from poor quality decision-making when the application is initially considered.

“The UK Border Agency has made some progress over the last few years in relation to new procedures and approaches, but is still failing to meet expectations,” he said.

Mr Vaz said more consistent and rigorous scrutiny of applications would lead to fewer delays, fewer appeals, less uncertainty for the applicant, less pressure on the officials themselves, and probably lower costs for the UK taxpayer.

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