The Home Affairs Committee has today issued its report The Work of the UK Border Agency (November 2010-March 2011). In addition to its more general criticisms about immigration control by the UK Border Agency, a quick summary of some other points of interest appears below.
Poor decision making by the UKBA?
Para. 27 of the Report highlights that a staggering 39% of immigration appeals against decisions made by the UK Border Agency are allowed whilst also noting at para. 12 the UKBA Chief Inspector’s recent criticism of the the standard of decision-making on tier 2 PBS applications in his February 2011 report. Figures also show that over one quarter of asylum appeals are also allowed.
Whilst the UK Border Agency maintains that that high success rate of appellants in immigration appeals is attributable to the subsequent production of information and evidence after the decision, para. 29 queries whether this arises because insufficient or inaccurate information has been given to applicants in the first place, or whether applicants are attempting to delay the process in an attempt to remain in the UK.
JCWI’s own casework experience on this issue is that evidence provided at the time of immigration applications is often altogether overlooked by decision makers, or not considered properly. Further evidence is therefore often produced as a belt and braces approach to back up the evidence given at the time of making the application. Either way the above statistics are cause for concern given the current proposal to withdraw legal aid funding for immigration appeals, and indeed the possible abolition of appeal rights for PBS applicants, and family visitors.
Abolition of appeal rights
The report at para. 31 expresses concern about recent media reports about a leaked document proposing the abolition of appeal rights for those visiting family members. Indeed it correctly observes that ‘it would not be appropriate for authorities to be judge and jury when refusals occur….’.
Targets for decision making
At para. 7 of the report, the Committee notes that the target for completing 90% of asylum cases within 6 months will not be met by the deadline of December 2011.The Government has now abandoned this target in favour of a measurement that will instead use a ‘basket of indicators’. The indicators are as follows: intake, decisions taken within 30 days, quality of decision, grant rate, percentage of decisions overturned at appeal, conclusions at six, 12, 18 and 36 months, cases removed by 12 months, number and age profile of the outstanding caseload, asylum support costs, productivity (conclusion per case-owner FTE) and unit cost.
The Committee notes that the focus should be on quality of initial decision making in order avoid amongst other things the human suffering that occurs from delay but expresses concern that this approach might lead to excessive bureaucracy at para. 8 of the report.
Finally, the Committee notes that it will be monitoring net migration figures to see whether the Government meets its target of reducing immigration. It goes on to reiterate at para.11 that students should not be included in the figure unless and until they make an application of demonstrate an intention to settle in the UK.