The backlog of UK visa and immigration cases still to be dealt with by the UK Border Agency (UKBA) has been described as “out of control” by a Commons home affairs select committee.
Research from the group found that more than 300,000 cases were still to be dealt with at the end of June this year; a nine per cent increase over the course of the second quarter. Keith Vaz, the committee's chairman, remarked: “There are now about the same number of cases awaiting resolution by UKBA as there are people living in Iceland. The backlog is spiralling out of control.”
The number refers to cases that the agency is yet to investigate, trace or conclude. However, the majority of the increase came from an increase in missing migrants, who are thought to number around 24,000.
This high figure has once again called into question the effectiveness of UK immigration authorities' means of monitoring the number of people entering and leaving the country. The MPs remarked: “We are not convinced that the agency's limited checking regime will have picked up all of the applicants who remain in the country.”
They added that this should mean that the final checks on immigration cases are made thoroughly and are not “rushed to meet an artificial deadline”.
However, according to the UKBA, the majority of people on the backlog are no longer in the country. “Thousands of checks on government and private sector databases have shown to trace of [the missing migrants] being in the UK,” the agency stated.
Mark Harper, immigration minister, also commented on the report: “This report raises some legitimate concerns but we are taking robust action and it is working. Every day it gets harder to live illegally in the UK – we are tracking people down and taking action against them.”