The UK visa status of hundreds of foreign nationals living in Britain is at risk after important personal documents were lost by the UK Visas and Immigration department at the Home Office some months ago.
A number of similar incidents has led to calls for the government agency to make immediate changes to the way it looks after documents.
According to a former, senior UK visa official the problem has now escalated to the point that the Home Office is regularly misplacing thousands of important documents.
Despite these losses, the Home Office is yet to make any voluntary self-referral notices to alert data protection watchdogs about the missing papers, and as a result the department is now facing criticism from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
Commenting on the issue, Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, Yvette Cooper, said: “This is a matter of basic competence. Far too often we’re hearing about missing files and simple errors made by the Home Office that have a devastating consequence on people’s lives.”
Ms Cooper added that it has even been suggested that the department move to a digitalised system to prevent the need for original documents to be sent in the first place.
“The Home Affairs Committee and the independent inspectorate have warned the Home Office repeatedly to improve the competency and accuracy of the UK immigration system. It’s imperative they get the basics right.”