Home Affairs CommitteeLetter from Rob Whiteman, Chief Executive, UK Border Agency, to the Chair of the Committee, 3 May 2012

Thank you for your letter of 30 March 2012 in which you requested information ahead of my evidence session on 15 May 2012. Please find my response to your questions below.

Please note the figures quoted below are based on management information unless stated otherwise. The information has been subject to internal quality assurance checks however it is drawn from snapshots of UK Border Agency databases and is therefore subject to change. Some numbers have been rounded which will explain discrepancies in some totals.

Foreign National Offenders

Questions 1 to 19: Progress in dealing with Foreign National Offenders (FNOs)

I would like to start by reminding the Committee of our wide-ranging work on FNOs, the progress we are making and the principles to which we work.

In 2011 we removed 4,522 FNOs from the UK. We are also seeing fewer cases arising which fit the deportation threshold—numbers are down approximately 12% in 2011 compared with 2010, whilst the overall prison population has not fallen; this suggests that foreign nationals are committing fewer serious crimes.

We are also starting the deportation process earlier and removing foreign criminals more quickly. The average number of days between a FNO finishing their sentence and being removed has fallen from 131 days in 2008 to 74 days in 2011. In 2011 just under half of removals were within the Early Removal Scheme period, when a prisoner can be removed earlier to save taxpayers’ money.

We also work to a number of important principles. Where a foreign criminal poses a risk to the public we believe they should stay in detention and vigorously oppose bail. In only 10% of cases of FNOs released from detention whilst awaiting deportation was this decision made by the UK Border Agency—the courts made the decision to release in the other cases. The UK Border Agency must act within the law and consider releasing individuals where there is no realistic prospect of removal in a reasonable timescale.

We are also driving concerted cross-government action to embed our returns agenda with foreign governments. This work includes negotiations to receive documents more quickly from foreign national governments where FNOs have destroyed their passports or refused to correctly identify themselves to delay attempts to deport them.

Foreign National Offenders released in 2006 without being considered for deportation

The Committee has specifically asked for an update on the progress we are making on the cases of the 1,013 foreign prisoners who in 2006 were found to have been released without consideration for deportation. The table below sets this out and is accurate as at 3 April 2012.

Total cases concluded

Of which deported or removed

Of which did not result in deportation or removals

Cases still going through the deportation process

Number of individuals serving a custodial sentence

Not located









Over 80% of the cases have been concluded and nearly half of those have been deported. We continue to focus on the remainder. Inevitably they are now the oldest and most complex cases but we continue to make progress. We have removed a further two cases since my last letter in December 2011.

In particular we continue to carry out tracing on the 57 cases (5% of the original group) that have not yet been located and their details have been circulated on the Police National Computer.

The Committee is aware that these are historical issues and strenuous work is carried out to ensure that prisoners who may be deported at the end of their sentence are identified between NOMS and the UK Border Agency.

The Committee asked for details of the 445 concluded cases that did not result in removal or deportation:


Appeal allowed


British citizen


Irish citizen




Deportation criteria not met


Other reasons2






New Foreign National Offender cases

The Committee asked how many FNOs are being held in prison as of 31 March 2012. The latest data available from National Offender Management Service (NOMS) shows that as at 31 March 2012 there were 11,127 foreign nationals in prison.

NOMS does not routinely publish data regarding the number of foreign nationals received into prisons, only the number of foreign nationals in prison on a certain day. However, in a recent FOI response NOMS released data that shows 14,805 foreign nationals entered prison between January and September 2011.

There are no central records held by NOMS or the UK Border Agency to record the referral times against the date prisoners are sentenced. To obtain an analysis to establish the proportion of cases referred within five days of sentence would require a manual case by case search of individual files and such a search would be at a disproportionate cost. Whilst we have an agreement with NOMS that prisoners will be referred within five days we are confident that notifications not received within five days do not have a significant impact on processing times for deportation. NOMS continue to remind establishments of the importance of making referrals to UK Border Agency on time.

Foreign National Offenders deported during the most recent period available

The numbers of FNOs deported (including under the Early Removal Scheme or Facilitated Returns Scheme) between January and March 2012 will not be published until 24 May. However, between October and December 2011, we deported 1,018 Foreign National Offenders.

Of these 427 were removed via the Early Removal Scheme and 416 via the Facilitated Returns Scheme.

Foreign National Offenders released during this period

A total of 454 individuals were released between 1 December 2011 and 31 March 2012. The reasons for these releases are set out in the table below. You will see that the vast majority were released by an Immigration Judge on bail. The UK Border Agency must also release those where we have been unable to maintain detention under the law because there is no imminent prospect of deportation. These individuals are assessed according to level of risk and conditions are set.

Reason for Release


Immigration Judge Bail




UKBA—Allowed Appeal


Prison—End of Sentence4


Mental Health Discharge




All 454 individuals were released on restrictions whilst the Agency continued to pursue deportation, except for those released following an allowed appeal. 427 cases remain outstanding. Under official statistics protocols we are unable to give a breakdown of the outcome of the cases that have been concluded over the period as this will form a subset of statistics published on 24 May 2012.

The 427 outstanding cases fall into the following categories. You can see that half either have appeals underway or face further criminal proceedings:

Category of outstanding cases


Further legal challenges5


Casework issues6


Country situation currently presents challenges to removal7


Compliance issues8


Further criminal proceedings




Awaiting/Outstanding Casework Decision10


Total outstanding


Of the 427, 16 individuals have been re-detained.

Foreign National Offenders managed in the community

As of 4 April 2012 there were approximately 3,900 FNOs who are subject to deportation action living in the community. Deportation of FNOs can be delayed for a variety of reasons, such as the use of judicial challenges or by the individuals’ continued failure to comply with the re-documentation process. A high proportion of FNOs are detained under immigration powers after their release from prison, but our powers do not allow us to detain indefinitely. We can only detain where there is a realistic prospect of removal within a reasonable timescale.

In 2011, for an average month, approximately 110 FNOs were released from immigration detention on restrictions while deportation was considered. Approximately 90% of these were released on bail by the courts; the remaining 10% were released by the UK Border Agency, having assessed the risk of harm posed to the public and the prospects of removal in a reasonable timescale.

The breakdown of these cases by time since release from prison is shown in the table below.11

Time Since Release12


Within the previous 6 months


Within the previous 12 months


Within the previous 24 months


More than 24 months


More than 60 months


Data Quality Issues13


Foreign National Offenders released without consideration for deportation in 2010–11

The Committee has asked for an update on the three FNOs that were released from prison prior to being considered for deportation in 2010–11, and were no longer in contact with the UK Border Agency. These cases were originally reported to the Committee by the Home Secretary in September 2010.

We are continuing to trace these individuals and their details have been circulated on the Police National Computer stating that the UK Border Agency should be contacted if they are encountered. We have also sought information on their whereabouts using internal and external databases.

Asylum and Immigration Backlog

Questions 20 to 46: Our progress on dealing with the remaining historic legacy cases

I will take these questions together in order to set out both the historic and current situation.

The Case Assurance and Audit Unit (CAAU) was established in April 2011 to actively manage the live older asylum cases that had been reviewed by the Case Resolution Directorate (CRD) but had remaining barriers to conclusion, and to actively trace those cases which had been placed in the Controlled Archive.

In the last financial year, CAAU employed an average of approximately 112 full time equivalent staff. The CAAU operational budget was of approximately £3.2 million.

From this resource we currently have a team consisting of approximately 13 full time equivalent staff to work specifically on analysing tracing results conducted on the Controlled Archive.

In 2011–11 the UK Border Agency reduced the cost of asylum support by over £100 million from 2009–10 and are bringing the cost down further in 2011–12.

“Live” asylum cohort

CAAU originally took responsibility for 23,000 “live” asylum cases when CRD closed on 31 March 2011. These cases had been reviewed but were awaiting conclusion, in the main because there were barriers such as ongoing litigation, impending prosecutions, incomplete legal or criminal proceedings or non-compliance.

Jonathan Sedgwick previously reported to the Committee in September 2011 that approximately 4,500 of this original “live” cohort had been concluded leaving approximately 18,000 live cases.

In my letter to the Committee in December 2011, I updated this figure to show that 7,700 of the cases had been concluded to date.

In December 2011, a further 1,500 additional cases that had previously been managed by CRD had been identified as not being picked up as part of the data transfer when CAAU was established and were therefore added to the “live” cases cohort.

We have always been clear that the “live” case cohort will grow as we trace people in the Controlled Archive. Where a case in the Controlled Archive has been traced, it is transferred to the “live” case cohort to be case worked to conclusion. Therefore the number of cases within the asylum “live” cohort will fluctuate. In order to resolve these cases, CAAU use the same processes used for any other case that is resolved by the UK Border Agency and does so in line with our published policy.

Progress since last update

Since my last update, CAAU has concluded a further 4,900 applicants. Of these:

2,100 were identified as removed (including robust data matching across the whole cohort);

2,500 were given leave to remain in the UK;

two are deceased; and

300 have been closed as duplicate cases.

The Committee also asked for a breakdown of the “live” asylum cases originally transferred from CRD that have been concluded over the period. Of the “live” asylum cases concluded since my last update, approximately 3,000 were part of the original “live” asylum cohort transferred from CRD. This brings the total conclusions from the original 23,000 cases transferred from CRD to 7,600. Of these:

650 were removed;

4,450 were given leave to remain;

12 are deceased; and

2,500 were duplicates.

As of 31 March 2012, there were 21,000 cases within the asylum “live” cohort of legacy cases. These “live” asylum cases pre-date 2006 in terms of application and, as demonstrated by the cases recently concluded, there will be a range of outcomes including removal where legally permissible. These are complex cases many of which face significant ongoing legal challenges.

Controlled Archive

The Controlled Archive has been in existence since May 2007. In my evidence session in December 2011, I reported to the Committee that the asylum Controlled Archive stood at 93,000 and the migration Controlled Archive contained 26,000 cases.

We have made good progress in the four months (December 2011 to March 2012) since my last report and have reduced the asylum Controlled Archive by 13,000 (nearly 15%) and the migration Controlled Archive by 4,500 cases. No cases have been added to the Controlled Archive over this period.

Therefore, as at 31 March 2012, there were 80,000 cases in the asylum Controlled Archive and 21,500 in the migration Controlled Archive. We believe that the majority of these cases have left the UK but we do not have evidence of this because the UK has not carried out embarkation controls. The Committee is aware that e-Borders will carry out this function by 2015.

The table below shows progress of the live asylum cohort and both the asylum Controlled Archives so far.14

April 2011

September 2011

December 2011

March 2012

Live asylum cohort





Asylum controlled archive





Migration controlled archive





As I said in my last evidence session I aim to significantly reduce the number of cases within the Controlled Archive by March 2013. To do this we have introduced a more proactive and robust process to trace these cases.

CAAU conducts regular checks on all cases within the Controlled Archive. We are bulk checking the entire untraced caseload against a number of external databases including DWP and HMRC and information held by a major credit reference agency (Equifax). This is in addition to the checks already being run against internal Home Office databases.

Where new information comes to light as a result of information held by these databases, we will remove the case from the Controlled Archive and transfer to a CAAU “live” casework team to progress to conclusion.

CAAU is currently conducting a manual audit of cases within the Controlled Archive in order to provide a further breakdown of the movements of these cases, other than by how much the number of cases within the Controlled Archive has gone up or down. This audit is close to being finalised and will provide detailed information regarding the individual movement of cases from the Controlled Archive. The results of this audit will be available for the next update to the Committee. From 1 May 2012, a mechanism to control and provide an audit trail of all decisions made by CAAU has been in place, and we will be in a position to report to the Committee with more detailed information on the removal of cases from the Controlled Archive in future updates.

New Asylum Cases

Questions 47 to 50 asked for information on our performance regarding asylum cases

Published statistics show that between 1 April 2011 and 31 July 2011 the UK Border Agency received 6,548 asylum applications from main applicants (this may include those who subsequently absconded or withdrew their application).

Published statistics also show that on 31 January 2012, there were 1,334 main applicants either awaiting a decision on their asylum application or within the appeal process where the application had been made between 1 April and 31 July 2011.

It is not possible, however, to detail how many of the 6,548 asylum applications made in the period 1 April to 31 July 2011 have been granted/been refused/have withdrawn at the present time as to do so would breach the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. Data will be published in August 2012.

The proportion of applications made in the period April to July 2011 that received decisions within 30 days or were concluded within six months also cannot be answered in full due to data publication restrictions. These figures will become available in August 2012.

Indicative performance can be obtained by reference to published statistics for the latest period available, March 2010 to February 2011.

Published statistics for the period March 2010 to February 2011 show that of the 16,128 adult applications made, 59% (9,556) were decided in 30 days.

Published statistics for the period March 2010 to February 2011 show that of the 18,257 main asylum applications made 53% (9,216) were concluded in six months.

Questions 51 to 54 related to asylum applications made over the period 1 April 2011 to 29 February 2012: for applications made over this period published data shows there were 18,070 main applicants.

The proportion of applications made in the period April to February 2012 and decided within 30 days cannot be answered fully due to data publication restrictions. Statistics covering this period will be available in August 2012.

Nor can the question regarding rejected asylum applicants be answered fully due to data publication restrictions. Data for January and February 2012 is not available until 24 May 2012.

From the available data it is not possible to say what stage in the asylum process the nationals of any country have reached at the time of their removal. This includes whether their claim has failed at that point and they have become failed asylum seekers, because those departing voluntarily can do so at any stage without notifying the UK Border Agency. For this reason the answer can only provide the number of asylum cases removed.

The table below shows the number of asylum cases (including dependants) who were removed or voluntarily departed from the UK over the period 1 April to 31 December 2011.

1 April–31 December 2011

Asylum cases, total


Enforced removals and notified voluntary departures


Assisted Voluntary Returns


Other voluntary departures


It is not possible to extrapolate a figure for those remaining in the UK from available published or internal management data.

The e-Borders system enables checks to be made on individuals arriving or exiting the country at a majority of the points of entry to the UK and is being fully rolled out. e-Borders is currently tracking around 55% of inbound and 60% of outbound passenger movements to and from the UK. This equates to approximately 126 million passengers a year on over 2,800 routes, and includes over 90% of non-EU aviation passengers. The Government is committed to ensuring that the number of UK ports undertaking exit checks is increased to ensure a more complete travel history is recorded on passengers.

The Committee also asked for a breakdown of why some failed asylum seekers may remain in the UK after their decision has been made. The UK Border Agency expects those with no right to remain in the UK to leave voluntarily, otherwise we will seek to remove them from the UK as quickly as possible. However, where an individual seeks to frustrate their removal by submitting spurious last minute legal challenges or refusing to co-operate with the travel document process delays can occur.

Published statistics relating to the period March 2010 to February 2011 show that the vast majority of cases within the asylum WiP (Work in Progress—ie the number of cases which are unconcluded) are decided and require activity to facilitate return to the country of origin, as is shown in the table below. Our strategy of developing a balanced and well managed asylum system requires us to focus on removals and encourage voluntary departures, to ensure inflow is balanced by outflow.


The number of cases that are unconcluded at the given point in time. This includes: undecided cases, those cases awaiting an appeal outcome and those cases awaiting removal.

Status of applications

WIP as at
end June 11

Age of cases

WIP as at
end June 11


WIP as at
end June 11

Awaiting Initial Asylum Decision


0–12 mths




Asylum Appeal Outstanding


12–24 mths




Subject to Removal Action


24–36 mths




Further Leave Application Outstanding(1)


36 mths +








Note: The figures demonstrate that the majority of cases in the work in progress caseload have been processed through the initial stages of the asylum system and are “subject to removal action”.

Whilst some cases in this category await imminent removal, for many there will be significant barriers to removals which we are still working to overcome. Such barriers include: Difficulties in obtaining documents from national governments; dealing with last minute legal challenges; and logistical and practical challenges in removing families in a humane and dignified fashion.

In 2011 the UK Border Agency carried out a total of 52,526 removals across all categories. 8,869 of these were asylum removals. The number of removals has increased over the last three quarters for which statistics have been published.

Q2 2011

Q3 2011

Q4 2011

Cumulative Total for 2011 (inc Q1)

Asylum cases, total





Enforced removals and notified voluntary departures





Assisted Voluntary Returns





Other voluntary departures





We have developed a removals programme for the whole Agency and I intend to make sure that removals performance increases.

“Lille Loophole”

Questions 55–60

Responsibility for border control has now transferred to Brian Moore as interim Head of Border Force. Mr Moore will address these questions in a separate response.

Sponsor Licensing

In questions 61 to 64: Sponsor licensing applications

Migrants coming to the UK under Tier 1 are high value migrants and so do not require a sponsor.

The number of new applications submitted for each tier during the period December 2012 to March 2012 is as follows:

Total sponsor applications

Tier 2


Tier 4


Tier 5


We operate a risk based approach to pre-registration visits in Tiers 2 and 5. In Tier 4, we visit all institutions which make a valid first application to join the sponsor register.

We carried out the following pre-registration visits in the period December 2011 to March 2012:

Pre registration visits

Tier 2


Tier 4


Tier 5


We also carry-out follow up visits on a risk-based and intelligence-led basis. We carried out the following post license visits in the period December 2011 to March 2012:

Post licence visits

Tier 2


Tier 4


Tier 5


Unannounced visits are undertaken in order to allow the UK Border Agency to undertake inspections of high risk sponsors when we do not wish to allow them to have any advance preparation time. However, announced visits remain necessary as depending on the type of information we wish to see, or individuals that we wish to interview, we may need to give the sponsor advance notice to ensure that the items/people are available on the day. During the period December 2011 to March 2012 we carried out the following unannounced visits:

Unannounced visits

Tier 2


Tier 4


Tier 5


During the 2011–12 financial year 49% of all Tier 4 post-licence visits were unannounced.

Tier 4 Visa Applications and Sponsors

Questions 65 to 80: Student visa applications and Tier 4 sponsors

Statistics regarding student visa applications are published on a quarterly basis. The data for the period January to March 2012 will be published on 24 May 2012.

The latest published data shows that between 1 October and 31 December 2011, 20,154 entry clearance visas and 34,882 extensions of stay were granted to main applicants applying for Tier 4 (General) Study visas. In the same period 4,750 entry clearance visas and 4,209 extensions of stay were refused to main applicants applying for Tier 4(General) Study visas.

Information regarding the reasons visas were refused, the number of gifted students exempted from the language requirement and the number of students removed from the country for breaking the terms of their visas is not available as to collate it would involve a search of individual case records at disproportionate costs. As our new ICW system is developed and rolled out the range of management information automatically provided will increase in the years ahead.

The Committee also asked for information regarding Tier 4 sponsors and applications for Highly Trusted Status.

The UK Border Agency does not have the power to fine or prosecute Tier 4 sponsors for misuse of their licence. We can however, suspend or revoke sponsor licences if the licence is misused. During the period 1 December 2011 to 31 March 2012, 32 Tier 4 sponsors had their licence suspended and 22 had their licence revoked.

Where the owner or an employee of a sponsor has committed an immigration offence then UKBA can and have prosecuted those individuals.

A total of 241 sponsors applied for Highly Trusted Sponsor (HTS) status in the period 1 December 2011 to 31 March 2012. As of 31 March 2012, 70 of these cases have been decided, of which 20 had been approved with the remainder withdrawn or refused. 171 applications remained outstanding on 31 March 2012.

In line with “Hampton Principles”, we do not visit every sponsor in relation to a HTS application. Where an application is refused based on information already held or where an application is withdrawn by the sponsor it is generally not necessary to undertake a visit. Furthermore, it may not be necessary to visit a sponsor whose premises we previously visited without any concerns. Of the 20 sponsors that were approved for HTS in this period, eight were visited as part of the HTS decision process.

As of 10 April 2012, there were 1,460 Tier 4 Sponsors with HTS status.

As of 10 April 2012, 910 sponsors who had applied for HTS status remained subject to the interim limit on the number of Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies they can issue. This figure consists of sponsors who have:

Applied to renew their HTS but have not yet obtained educational oversight;

Applied for HTS for the first time but have not yet obtained educational oversight; and

Applied for HTS status for the first time and already have achieved educational oversight.

Visa Applications

Questions 81 to 87

Statistics regarding visa applications are published on a quarterly basis. The data for the period January—March 2012 will be published on 24 May 2012.

Published data shows that for 2011 the following visa applications (excluding dependants) were made:

Total applications (excluding dependants)



Tier 1




Tier 2




Tier 4




Tier 5




Figures for outstanding applications for PBS Tier 1, 2 and 5 are not available from published statistics.

Information relating to the reasons visa applications were refused is not available as to collate it would involve a search of individual case records at disproportionate costs.


Questions 88 to 105: Enforcement action taken against those who break the rules

For the period 1 December 2011 to 31 March 2012, approximately 460 civil penalties were issued to employers caught employing migrant workers illegally. As of 31 March 2012, approximately 30 of these penalties had been reviewed and cancelled following an objection or appeal and approximately 30 were still in the appeal process. Of the remaining 400 we have collected payments of over £125,000. We expect this figure to increase as many of the charges have not yet reached the final payment due by date as yet.

For the period 1 December 2011 to 31 March 2012 approximately 310 Carriers Liability Charges were issued. As at 3 April 2012, around 140 have been paid and approximately 20 had been cancelled at the objections stage following our review. Many of the charges have not yet reached the final payment due by date so we expect this figure to increase.

For the period 1 December to 31 March 2012, we imposed penalties on 450 hauliers found carrying clandestine entrants. As at 31 March 2012, around 150 cases had been paid. It should be noted that many of the hauliers penalties imposed within the period were not due for payment until after the 31 March 2012, there being a statutory period of at least 60 days from the date of imposition before payment is due. Penalties are also subject to an objection process which would defer payment for a maximum of a further 140 days if instigated. Over the longer term the Home Office usually collect 82–85% of the penalties imposed on hauliers once objections and relevant time periods have been taken into account.

The Committee asked about the action the Agency takes when we receive notifications from Tier 2 sponsors.

The timely removal of those who are found to have no right to remain in the UK is paramount to the integrity of our immigration system. We prefer that people leave the UK voluntarily. However, if this option is refused then we will enforce removal including arresting and detaining those who refuse to comply.

Tier 2 Sponsors made approximately 21,300 notifications between 1 December 2011 and 31 March 2012. The vast majority of these did not relate to non-compliance but rather to administrative changes such as change of work places or salary changes. There were also duplicate notifications.

During the period approximately 4,500 Tier 2 workers were identified who may be liable for curtailment action. We reviewed approximately 1,400 of these, taking curtailment action on about 400 cases and identifying approximately 1,000 as requiring no further action. Approximately 3,100 notifications remain outstanding. We have prioritised curtailment activity on Tier 4 in recent weeks and will deal with the outstanding Tier 2 notifications shortly.

The Committee also asked for details of notifications that were sent by HEIs to the Agency between 1 October 2010 and 28 February 2011 to notify us that students were no longer attending courses.

Every notification received by 28 February this year has been processed and by the end of May, all necessary curtailment action arising from these notifications will be complete. We are unable to provide a timeline on individual records, eg for notifications from HEIs.

Between 1 October 2010 and 28 February 2011 we refused 9,414 Tier 4 visa extension applications. Our management information shows that about 800 of these left the UK in the same period of which 38 were enforced removals and 768 left voluntarily. However, others will have left at the end of their leave with no need for Agency intervention and will not have been captured by our systems, will have departed after February 2011 or will have gone on to regularise their stay and will not be provided for in this count.

The Committee asked for further information regarding the action the Agency can take against sponsors who do not comply with our sponsorship rules.

Under Tiers 2, 4 and 5, we do not have the powers to fine sponsors for the misuse of a sponsor licence. If we consider that a sponsor has not been complying with their sponsor duties, has been dishonest in their dealings with us or is a threat to immigration control in some other way then we will take action against them. This action may be to revoke, suspend pending further investigation or (for Tiers 2 and 5 only) to downgrade a sponsor’s licence. We can also reduce the number of Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) or Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) the sponsor can assign. Where the owner or an employee of a sponsor has committed an immigration offence then UK Border Agency can and have prosecuted those individuals.

Over this period we have suspended the licences of approximately 140 Tier 2 sponsors and 20 Tier 5 sponsors and revoked the licences of about 130 Tier 2 sponsors and 10 Tier 5 sponsors.

Appeal Tribunals

Questions 106 to 115: The Agency’s appeals performance

Our appeals performance has improved, however I am still clear there is more to do to drive this improvement further. We are taking forward a number of initiatives which will improve efficiency in the appeals process, our performance at appeals, and reduce the total volume of appeals in the system all of which will provide savings for the taxpayer. We are also implementing e-solutions to ensure consistent delivery of case files to our presenting teams and to the Courts in a timely way. We are currently analysing the reasons why we lose cases and will take action internally to improve our procedures and process.

Appeals statistics are published by the Ministry of Justice and data covering December to March 2012 has not yet been published.

The table below gives the latest available published data covering the period 1 October 2011 to 31 December 2011.


First Tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber)







1,900 (64%)

800 (27%)

270 (9%)

Managed Migration


3,600 (42%)

3,800 (44%)

1,100 (13%)

Entry Clearance


2,500 (36%)

2,500 (36%)

1,900 (28%)

Family Visit Visa


4,900 (41%)

3,800 (32%)

3,300 (27%)

The UK Border Agency continues to increase its performance against the indicators set out in the Appeals Improvement Plan.

Performance in October to December 2011 against AIP targets is as follows:

Target: 90% of bundles to be received at the IAC Tribunal by the date prescribed by HMCTS.

Bundle performance has increased from 49% (received by prescribed date) in 2010–11 to 62% in 2011–12. We expect further improvements in bundles performance over the next 12 months as we move from paper to e-solutions for asylum bundles, and make changes to how bundles are managed overseas where the majority of cases are.

Target: UK Border Agency to represent 90% of appeals.

The UK Border Agency was represented at 100% of Upper Tribunal hearings and 84% overall during the period 1 October to 31 December 2011.

Representation rates have been in the low to mid 80% range for the last year. After continued efforts to improve representation rates through various initiatives, such as training additional staff to represent, we anticipate that rates will increase further as appeal volumes are reduced under various policy initiatives.

Target: UK Border Agency to increase the number of appeals it wins.

In the period 1 October to 31 December 2011 the UK Border Agency won 42% of all appeals, and 64% of asylum appeals.

There is an increase in the win rate across these three months but the win rate for the last year has been 44%. There are a number of initiatives underway to improve the win rate.

We will target actions to improve and increase our win rates for visit visas, other entry clearance and managed migration. This includes getting solutions to deliver paperwork in a timely way, providing feedback to initial decision making and working with HM Courts & Tribunal Service on the impact of late evidence.

The UK Border Agency has a number of initiatives in place which contribute towards improving the win rate. Overseas cases are reviewed prior to the appeal hearing to ensure that decisions that cannot be sustained (for example due to new evidence that has been submitted) are withdrawn and in May 2011 we introduced legislation (section 19 of the UK Borders Act 2007), which restricts new evidence in all Points Based System appeals. We are also analysing appeal determinations to identify trends and improvements that can be made through training and we will step up our activities in this area in the next six months.

Target: Reduce appeal volumes and therefore cost to the taxpayer.

In the period 1 October to 31 December 2011 there were 28,111 appeals lodged.

Appeal volumes are decreasing. In 2008/9 there were 188,700 appeals lodged, compared to 159,800 in 2009–10 and 136,800 in 2010–11. We anticipate that they will continue to decrease as a result of forthcoming policy initiatives, resulting in savings for the taxpayer.

Entry Clearance

Questions 116 to 122: Entry clearance operations overseas

Regional “hubs” or decision making centres (visa offices making decisions on visa applications from multiple locations) have existed in the UK Border Agency network for a number of years. In June 2007 the Agency began a more systematic “hub and spoke” programme to consolidate our visa application network further. Since then there have been over 100 occasions when decision-making has been transferred from one visa post to another, and/or changes made to the application centre network. Maps showing the location of all our visa processing centres and application points are available on our website and a copy is attached at Annex A.

Many of our “hubs” are in FCO missions overseas and many have pre-existed prior to our “hub and spoke” programme. Therefore I have set out below our eight main hubs and the dates when the main “spokes” were added.17

Abu Dhabi

New York

Lahore (Pakistan)—October 2008
Karachi (Pakistan)—November 2008
Manama (Bahrain)—March 2009
Islamabad (Pakistan)—May 2009
Mirpur (Pakistan)—June 2009
Dubai (UAE)—August 2009
Tehran (Iran)—October 2009

Nassau (Bahamas)—December 2007
Hamilton (Bermuda)—December 2007
Belmopan (Belize)—December 2007
Guatemala City (Guatemala)—December 2007
Panama City (Panama)—December 2007
San Jose (Costa Rica)—December 2007
Buenos Aires (Argentina)—January 2008
Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic)—January 2008
Montevideo (Uruguay)—January 2008
Georgetown (Guyana)—January 2008
La Paz (Bolivia)—January 2008
Castries (St Lucia)—January 2008
Lima (Peru)—January 2008
Port of Spain (Trinidad & Tobago)—June 2008
Bridgetown (Barbados)—June 2008
Mexico City (Mexico)—September 2008
Santiago (Chile)—October 2008
Caracas (Venezuela)—November 2008
Chicago (USA)—October 2010
Los Angeles (USA)—May 2011
Ottawa (Canada)—October 2011



Ulaanbataar (Mongolia)—December 2007
Chongqing (China)—July 2010

Maputo (Mozambique)—June 2007
Windhoek (Namibia)—June 2007
Harare (Zimbabwe)—July 2007
Lilongwe (Malawi)—December 2007
Gaborone (Botswana)—March 2008
Luanda (Angola)—December 2008
Lusaka (Zambia)—October 2010


UK Visa Section

Seoul (South Korea)—January 2009
Tokyo (Japan)—January 2009
Hong Kong (China)—March 2009
Taipei (Taiwan)—October 2009
Bandar (Brunei)—November 2009
Canberra (Australia)—March 2011
Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)—October 2011
Singapore—October 2011

Algiers (Algeria)—November 2008
Pakistan settlement—January 2009
Gibraltar—January 2011
Dusseldorf—March 2011
Amsterdam—August 2011
Dublin (Republic of Ireland)—March 2012
Tripoli—April 2012



Ekaterinburg (Russia)—May 2008
St Petersburg (Russia)—September 2008

Vilnius (Lithuania)—October 2007
Bratislava (Slovakia)—February 2008
Tallinn (Estonia)—March 2008
Riga (Latvia)—March 2008
Vienna (Austria)—March 2008
Prague (Czech Republic)—April 2008
Budapest (Hungary)—June 2008
Bucharest (Romania)—February 2010
Sofia (Bulgaria)—February 2010
Chisinau (Moldova)—August 2011

The 10 largest hubs (by total visa application numbers) in our six regions received the following number of visa applications between October and December 2011:


Asia Pacific






Manila—21, 620



Gulf and Pakistan

South Asia

New York—18,695

Abu Dhabi—35, 120

New Delhi—23, 657


The 10 largest hubs (by total visa application numbers) in our six regions received the following number of Tier 4 visa applications between October and December 2011:


Asia Pacific









Gulf and Pakistan

South Asia

New York—2,202

Abu Dhabi—2,942

New Delhi—2,134


The Committee also asked for details of the actions undertaken by both the visa application centres (spokes) and decision centres (hubs).

Visa application centres are the customer-facing element of the visa process. They are responsible for:

Taking the visa fee (except in locations where we have mandated online payments).

Checking that core elements of the application form (eg bio-data) have been completed correctly.

Recording and receipting documents submitted in support of the visa application.

Enrolling biometrics.

Data entry of core details relating to an application (eg bio-data, type of application, etc).

Securely packaging the entire application bundle and despatching to the decision making hub.

Once the decision has been made the application bundle is returned to the visa application centre, which then:

Notifies the applicant that their application is ready for collection.

Returns the unopened application bundle to the applicant.

Throughout all parts of this process, visa centre staff and managers are required to carry out certain checks to ensure the integrity of the process. For example, the officer capturing biometrics must compare the photo in the passport with the person in front of them and the photograph on the visa application form. A manager will check periodically by CCTV that this basic but effective check is being carried out.

Decision centres are responsible for:

Quality assuring data entry and entering any remaining application details onto our system.

Verifying documents as and when required.

Confirming the completion and outcome of watchlist and fingerprint checks.

Considering the application against the Immigration Rules and recording the decision and reasons for it.

Providing written reasons for refusal or placing the visa vignette in the passport.

Copying all relevant documentation for future reference.

Ensuring all original documents are securely packaged for return to the visa centre.

Despatching the sealed package back to the visa centre.

Filing the application form and copy supporting documents for future reference.

Again, throughout the process staff and managers have audit and assurance responsibilities. For example, the Entry Clearance Manager is required to check refusals and a sample of applications granted for decision quality.

The Committee also asked for details of Entry Clearance Officers who had been made redundant taken voluntary redundancy. No UK based entry clearance staff have taken voluntary redundancy or been made redundant to date. These staff are posted overseas and deployed for a tour of duty and then return to their home units.

Since April 2010, as part of the ongoing programme of consolidation of our overseas operation just over 160 locally engaged staff have been made redundant. These include some who were doing entry clearance work.

MPs Correspondence (Question 123)

The aim of the MP Account Manager (MPAM) programme is to provide a faster response to MPs’ enquiries. Their focus is on dealing with MPs through e-mail or telephone contact and we do not separately record the number of letters sent to MPAMs.

The performance of MP Account Managers is published on the UK Border Agency website. The most recent published figures show performance for 2011 and are below.


Number received

Number completed
within service standard

Percentage completed within service standard19

Quarter 1 2011




Quarter 2 2011




Quarter 3 2011




Quarter 4 2011




(Please note: Recording MPs’ email performance started on 1 April 2011)

Number received

Number answere
within service standard

Percentage completed
within service standard

Quarter 1 2011

Not Applicable

Not Applicable

Not Applicable

Quarter 2 2011




Quarter 3 2011




Quarter 4 2011




Child Detention (Questions 124–126)

The Coalition Government made a commitment to end the detention of children for immigration purposes. A new family returns process has been developed to encourage families to leave voluntarily and the welfare of the child is at the heart of this.

When a return has to be enforced, options include the use of new pre-departure accommodation at Cedars. This was designed with advice from Barnardo’s (who now run the welfare and support services at the centre) and has a completely different look or feel from an immigration removal centre.

The refurbished Tinsley House immigration removal centre is now used only for families who have been stopped at the border and, on rare occasions, for criminal and high-risk cases which are unsuitable for Cedars.

Statistics regarding the number of children entering detention are published on a monthly basis. The latest statistics, published in February, show that 41 children entered detention during the period 1 October to 31 December 2011, 30 in January 2012 and 10 in February 2012.

Length of detention figures are published on those leaving detention, a subset showing children for the latest period available (1 October—31 December 2011) is shown below.

Q4 2011

Total children detained

Removed from the UK

Granted temporary admission/release

Total Children




3 days or less




4 to 7 days




8 to 14 days




15 to 28 days





Questions 127 to 136: The new National Allegations Database and how the Agency uses the intelligence and allegations it receives

Good progress is being made with setting up the National Allegations Database, which we aim to be fully operational by the end of July 2012.

Funding for the project has been secured and the design of the database has been agreed. Staffing and other operational requirements have been assessed. Work on an updated web allegations form is proceeding well and initial discussions on how feedback can be provided, when requested and appropriate, are under way.

Caseworkers are instructed when and how to refer cases to the Agency’s intelligence unit at appropriate points in our existing guidance. The current instructions will be refreshed with the introduction of the new National Allegations Database.

The Committee asked about allegations the UK Border Agency has received. Reports on the total number of allegations received by the UK Border Agency are collated manually on a fortnightly basis. For the period 9 December 2011 to 29 March 2012 approximately 25,600 allegations were received. All allegations received by the UK Border Agency are initially assessed on receipt and approximately 98% of these were assessed within 48 hours of receipt.

A breakdown of the types of allegations received is not recorded at the moment but will be available when the new National Allegations Database is operational.

Following initial assessment, details of approximately 16,000 allegations were logged and sent to the appropriate teams for further work. The Agency prioritises high harm (ie counter-terrorism, threat to life, firearms, weapons, sexual offences, vulnerable adults and children, possession of large quantities of drugs/drugs factory, trafficking or facilitation of families involving children) or time sensitive allegations which are sent to specialist teams for immediate investigation.

The remaining allegations were further researched and no further action was taken, either because they did not contain enough information to identify an immigration or other crime, or they contained information which had been provided previously or which was known to be incorrect or vexatious.

Where an allegation contains sufficient information to conduct an enforcement visit, the UK Border Agency will take action. During the period 1 December 2011 to 31 March 2012, approximately 900 allegation based enforcement visits took place, approximately 700 of which were illegal working operations.

As a result of these enforcement visits approximately 700 individuals have been arrested for a variety of offences, including illegal entry, overstaying and facilitation. It should be noted that the offence an individual has been arrested for may not relate to the allegation raised in the first instance, and it may also be the case that the person arrested at the address is not related to the initial allegation.

The new National Allegations Database will, once operational, allow the UK Border Agency to track allegations received which end up with a removal but we are currently unable to provide this information.

I hope you have found this information useful and I look forward to discussing it further when I appear before the Committee on 15 May.

Rob Whiteman
Chief Executive

Annex A

1 Exempt includes those who fall under Section 7 or Section 8 of the Immigration Act—eg diplomats, foreign members of UK Armed Forces and those resident in the UK before the 1971 Act.

2 Other reasons include: deceased, successful appeal (before 1 April 2006), length of residence, minor.

3 These are cases where the Agency has no immediate prospect of removal and so has to bail in accordance with the law.

4 These are cases that are released by the prison that:
— Do not fit FNO deportation criteria and the criminal case is then later closed (deportation is not pursued);
— Exceptional cases where a case may be extradited quicker than we anticipate eg by SOCA; and
— Released by prison before the CCD referral gets processed by the prison.

5 Appeal against deportation, asylum claim, judicial review.

6 Application to Revoke DO, Children Issues, further representations, medical reasons, Appeal Rights Exhausted (ARE)—awaiting travel docs, ARE deportation order not yet served, awaiting removal—barriers, awaiting removal—no barriers, decision served, in appeals, revoking DO.

7 Country situation prohibits removal but compliant in obtaining Emergency Travel Document.

8 Emergency travel document required but non-compliant, unwilling to go voluntarily.

9 Nationality not confirmed, unable to revoke asylum.

10 These are cases that are currently being caseworked.

11 All data provided is derived from internal management information which has not been externally validated and is subject to change. All figures have been rounded to the nearest 10.

12 Data is calculated from the ERS date, as this is often recorded on CID, it does not mean that individuals went during their ERS period.

13 These are cases where the custodial end date or early release date have not been recorded at the time.

14 Rounded to the nearest 500.

15 Not all of these applications are first applications: some are renewal applications; and some are applications for Highly Trusted Sponsorship

16 Grants and refusals in 2011 will include some cases where the application was made in 2010.

17 This is not comprehensive and may not capture all spokes for each hub (for instance commercially run visa application centres) and some of the spoke arrangements may subsequently have changed.

18 All figures quoted are management information and are subject to internal quality checks.

19 The service standards are: 90% of cases completed within 10 working days.

20 All figures quoted are management information and are subject to internal quality checks.

21 The service standards are: 95% completed within 20 working days.

22 This was an exceptional case relating to an individual who appeared to be significantly over 18 and who was in possession of valid passport to support that fact. An independent age assessment was completed which assessed the individual as being under 18 and the individual was released into local authority care on the same day this assessment was received.

Prepared 20th July 2012