Thursday, December 18, 2014

UK visa overstayers still here despite £30 million Home Office illegal immigration crackdown

A new immigration report has slammed the Government and Home Office for failing to find and deport thousands of foreign nationals overstaying and living illegally in the UK.

The Home Office has been criticised for failing to crack down on the number of foreign nationals who have overstayed their visas in the UK.

The inspector of borders and immigration John Vine said the Government had failed to reduce the number of 'overstayers' despite a flagship Home Office scheme costing millions of pounds designed to reduce the number of illegal immigrants in the UK.

Mr Vine said the ‘immigration refusal pool’, or the numberof foreign nationals refused leave to remain in the UK after 2008, was 174,057 in June 2012.

That visa refusal figure was relatively unchanged in the same period this year and remained at 173,562.

Mr Vine said:

"Any failure to take action against foreign nationals who overstay their permission to be in the UK has the potential to undermine public confidence in immigration control."

The Home Office awarded a multi-million pound contract to outsourcing firm Capita in 2012 to review and, where possible, close the records of foreign nationals in the migration refusal pool.

But according to Mr Vine, Capita has not only failed to deliver on the Government's ambition to crack down on illegal 'overstayers' it has also overstated its successes.

The report highlights a sample of 57 migrant records closed by Capita after stating that the overstayer had left the country. Inspectors found that 16 – around one quarter - had been ‘closed in error’.

This would amount to 1,140 records in 2013/14, 25% of the 4,080 people Capita reported to have left the UK that year, may still be illegally staying in the country. 

"I was disappointed to find a high level of inaccuracy in the classification of MRP records, with more than a quarter of departures in my sample being incorrectly recorded," Mr Vine added.

"Considerable improvements in the Home Office's capability to monitor, progress, and prioritise the immigration enforcement caseload will be needed to deliver its strategy for reducing the level of irregular migration."

Immigration and Security Minister James Brokenshire defended the Home Office:

"We inherited an immigration system in complete disarray, which turned a blind eye to hundreds of thousands of people with no right to be here, and made no attempt to remove them or even to properly identify the scale of the problem.

"Under the UK Border Agency there was no systematic plan to deal with illegal migrants other than failed asylum seekers and foreign criminals. We scrapped the failing UK Border Agency and brought its work back under the control of ministers partly in order to sort out that mess."

The Government has introduced a new Immigration Act, which cuts the number of human rights type visa appeals blocking the deportation of an illegal immigrant from 17 to 4 

Immigration specialist Cynthia Barker said that the problem of visa overstayers will take years to solve:

"The UK still has no proper system to count people in and out of its borders, so nobody really knows how many overstayers and illegal immigrants there are in the UK. 

"Research by the think tank ippr, suggests that the illegal immigration figure is at least 500,000, which it estimates would take £5 billion and 20 years to deport and remove all of the overstayers.

"The longer an illegal migrants stays in the UK the more chance they have of staying, for instance due to right to a family life under article 8 or through a long stay concession or amnesty."

The failure of the campaign to remove overstaying migrants and students included the ‘go home’ vans and Capita’s bungled 40,000 text messages to so-called illegal immigrants and visa overstayers, asking them to leave the UK. Many of the messages were sent in error to British citizens.

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