UK immigration backlog 'size of Newcastle'

23 Jul 2012 | Posted by Carl Thomas

The backlog of UK immigration papers that need to be dealt with is equal to the population of Newcastle upon Tyne, according to recent warnings.

MPs from the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, chaired by Keith Vaz, quipped that the UK Border Agency (UKBA) appears to have "acquired its own Bermuda Triangle", referencing the number of cases that the agency is unable to account for.

Indeed, more than 275,000 cases are still on its books, including missing foreign criminals, illegal immigrants and failed asylum seekers. It is thought that this backlog will take years to work through.

Mr Vaz added: "It's easy to get in, but near impossible to keep track of anyone, let alone get them out."

The report marks the first time that this committee has collated all of the UKBA cases awaiting resolution. It also assessed recent changes to the UK immigration laws, particularly those regarding UK visas for students.

According to the committee, the government's plans to cut the number of student visas by a quarter would not be beneficial to the country as a whole. Instead, it called for students to be excluded from the net migration figures in order to support the international study market, which is worth around £7.9 billion. It urged to government to find another area to focus on in order to lower net migration figures to the tens of thousands promised by the prime minister.

The research focused on the UKBA's work between December of last year and March of this year.