500,000 immigration case backlog will take 37 years to clear

A parliamentary watchdog has reported the the current backlog of over 500,000 unresolved immigration and asylum cases will take 37 years to process at current rates of progress. The Home Office also cannot confirm if this is the total extent of the backlog.

The exact number of outstanding cases is recorded at 502,462. The Home Affairs Select Committee has warned the government that the changes required in the Home Office are significant and the ‘rebranding’ involved in the abolition of the UKBA is insufficient.

The backlog of cases was increased by 190,000 last year when the committee discovered more cases in a ‘temporary and permanent migration pool’. These are migrants who have had their application refused, many of whom have already left the country. These extra cases bring the total to an incredible half a million cases. These include a great number of cases when applicants have been waiting for many years for a decision.

Sarah Rapson, the interim Director General for UK Visas and Immigration, told the committee that the immigration service would ‘never be fixed’ because of this backlog. What remains clear is that without a large-scale attempt to resolve this backlog, and the causes of it, the immigration system will continue to play catchup indefinitely.

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