Immigration Directorates Come Under Scrutiny
The first quarterly report of 2016 scrutinising the work of Home Office Immigration Directorates has been published by the Home Affairs Committee.
The report looks at the possible implications of Brexit, and suggests that post-Brexit attempts to limit non-EU migration, and the uncertainly over migration within Europe during the exit negotiations, could both lead to a surge in immigration. It therefore says that the directorates, and in particular UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), must ensure they are ready to cope with the spike in demand that could be placed on them by the fallout from Brexit.
The Committee warns against using EU citizens resident in the UK and Brits living and working in Europe as "bargaining chips" in the Brexit negotiations, and says that the Government must move quickly to establish certainty over their status and the new rules on free movement.
The report is quite critical of the work conducted by the Immigration Directorates. In particular, it highlights that:
- Despite the number of visa applications falling for consecutive quarters, there has been a rise in the number of cases not yet entered in the databases by UKVI. The Committee views this as unacceptable, saying that it is a simple administrative task that should easily be completed.
- Home Office continues to lack an effective and efficient system for managing its immigration casework, a theme the Committee has noted many times over.
- The number of outstanding asylum applications is at an all-time high. Despite repeated warnings from the Committee the Home Office has done nothing to address this situation: it must set out what steps it is taking to tackle this now.
- An unacceptably high number of asylum applications are being dealt with inappropriately – resulting in people being returned to countries like Eritrea that the Government knows is unsafe – or successfully appealed. The Home Office must review its country guidance and how it applies it.
- If the Government continues to fail to reduce immigration detention times in line with the Committee's and the Shaw recommendations, further interventions such as a statutory limit on detention will have to be considered.
"The biggest issue relating to Brexit is migration,” commented Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP, Chair of the Committee. “There is a clear lack of certainty in the Government’s approach to the position of EU migrants resident in the UK and British citizens living in the EU. Neither should be used as pawns in a complicated chess game which has not even begun.”
“We have offered three suggested cut off dates, and unless the Government makes a decision, the prospect of a 'surge' in immigration will increase,” he added. “Multiple voices and opinions from Government ministers cause uncertainty, and must stop.”
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