UK immigration backlog reaches 'half a million'

15 Jul 2013 | Posted by Carl Thomas

The backlog of unresolved UK immigration cases has reached more than 500,000, according to the influential Home Affairs Committee.

The latest report from the group of MPs suggested that clearing the backlog at the current rate could take as long as 37 years. Even the decision by home secretary Theresa May to divide the UK Border Agency in to two separate departments was questioned with regards to its effectiveness.

Keith Vaz MP, chairman of the committee, told the BBC that the figure is “staggering”. He added: “This is totally unacceptable. I know that the home secretary has abolished the UKBA, but we need to make sure that it's not just a rebranding exercise.

“We need new people at the top. We need a change of culture, but more than anything else we need to give them the resources that they need to clear the backlog.”

The last report from the committee showed 11 separate backlogs totalling 320,000 open or unresolved cases in the system. The latest report saw this figure jump way up after the committee stated that there is now a 12th backlog of some 190,000 files called the Temporary and Permanent Migration Pool.

The Home Office has disputed the figure, claiming that it is not new and has been over-counted by around 40,000.

UK immigration minister Mark Harper added that the government is making progress with the situation, noting that the division of the UKBA has been useful in this area. “The new UK Visa and Immigration Service has a clear focus to improve visa performance and customer service, while the Immigration Enforcement command concentrates on those who break our immigration laws,” he stated.

“It will take a long time to clear the backlogs we inherited – but through the changes we have made we are in a much stronger position to do so.”