UK immigration inspectors uncover 'unacceptable' backlog

24 Jan 2013 | Posted by Carl Thomas

An investigation conducted by immigration services has uncovered a UK visa application backlog of more than 16,000 cases.

The chief inspector of immigration, John Vine, oversaw the report, which focused on the number of backlogs related to UK spouse and partner visa requests from people outside of the EEA who already have a partner in the Britain and have applied to the UK Border Agency to facilitate their move.

He called the high figure "unacceptable", noting that some people had been waiting for a decade to hear if their partner had permission to live in the country.

Mr Vine added: "I don't think I should be discovering these backlogs. The agency should know about its workload. It should prioritise its resources and, at the very least, have a plan to deal with some of the things that we come across in inspection.

"For people to be in such a backlog of cases is not acceptable and I urge the agency to deal with the cases swiftly. To wait such a long time, even if your case is complex, is completely outside any service standards."

Mark Harper, Immigration Minister, expressed a similar opinion on the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme, dubbing the Border Agency a "shambles".

However, he did note that 14,000 of the cases highlighted in the investigation were people "who didn't like the decision and didn't go through the proper appeal mechanism", rather than people who were waiting for an initial decision. Mr Harper criticised the UKBA for not directing people through the correct appeal processes.