The work of the Immigration Directorates (Q4 2015) Contents

6Conclusion

96.We recognise the scale of the challenge facing the Home Office in dealing with visa and asylum applications. Our analysis of the performance of the immigration directorates over Q4 2015 reveals a mixed picture. The over-whelming number of visa applications continue to be processed within customer service standards and good progress has been made in a number of other areas. There has been a clear improvement in the targeting of enforcement in the area of sponsorship visas, though the handling of the English language testing scandal detracts from the progress in this area and risks causing damage both to the public’s faith in the integrity of the immigration system and the UK’s reputation as a country that welcomes overseas students. We also note concerns from academic sponsors about a lack of engagement from the Home Office and expect this to be addressed as a priority, given their importance to the UK economy.

97.The application of extra resources to process asylum applications has had a tangible impact as evidenced by the substantial reduction in the number of asylum applications pending a decision for more than six months and the additional 12,000 initial decisions made in 2015 compared with the previous year.

98.However, such progress does not mean there is not still cause for concern. The number of asylum cases pending a decision is at its highest ever level, caused in part by an increase in cases requiring further review as well as an increase in applications overall. At the end of 2015, the number of visa applications still to be loaded on to the database was 85% higher than the previous quarter despite fewer applications. Thousands of legacy cases both in the Older Live Cases Unit and the Migration Refusal Pool also remain outstanding. These are worrying signs and we question whether UKVI has sufficient resources to cope with the additional demands at the same time as reducing the existing backlog, particularly given that the pressures on the UK immigration system are not going to ease in the foreseeable future. We summarise the current backlog below.

Table 26: Immigration backlog

Q4 2014

Q1 2015

Q2 2015

Q3 2015

Q4 2015

Difference on previous year

% year

Live legacy asylum cases

20,473

20,181

20,017

19,833

19,710

-763

-4%

Live legacy immigration cases

4,662

4,587

4,542

4,499

4,492

-170

-4%

FNOs living in the community

4,903

5,053

5,021

5,267

5,789

886

18%

Migration refusal pool

173,371

160,588

157,142

167,975

161,199

-12,172

-7%

No. of cases still to be loaded on CID

5,050

10,969

6,855

7,219

13,341

8,291

164%

Temporary and permanent migration pool

120,460

109,718

124,582

156,286

140,950

20,490

17%

Total

328,919

311,096

318,159

358,923

345,481

16,562

5%

99.We have regularly expressed concern about the size of the immigration backlog. The current backlog is lower than in Q3 2015 but still over 16,000 cases higher than a year ago. It is deeply concerning that there has been so little improvement.





© Parliamentary copyright 2015

27 May 2016