Dragging immigration appeals double Home Office workload

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Oct 10, 2017
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Immigrants are often left waiting until the next year for a decision on their appeals

Susannah Ireland for The Times

Home offices officials “cannot cope” with “systematic failures” in immigration appeals as the backlog in cases has nearly doubled in the last year, lawyers claimed yesterday.

Figures obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request showed that in 2015 the Home Office received 15,142 appeals. Just 87 of those were successful but the majority drifted on into 2016.

In 2016 27,563 appeals were dealt with, including those that ran on from the previous year, which prompted calls for more funding to deal with a tightening bottleneck of cases. The figures show that 2,650 appeals were successful but fewer than half of those – 1,032 – were made by people outside the UK.

According to the law firm Simpson Millar, which requested the data and assessed the figures, decisions on appeals made in 2016 appear for the most part to have been delayed into this year. “Without question, these systemic failures are a sign that the Home Office cannot cope, and this is having a devastating effect on thousands of families,” said Emma Brooksbank, a specialist immigration law partner at the firm.

In 2015, responding to suggestions that the immigration appeal system was beset with delays, the justice minister, Shailesh Vara, told MPs that the Immigration Act 2014 would bring appeals down. Lawyers said Vara pledged that increased resources would be provided to the Ministry of Justice to enable more cases to be heard if the backlog persisted.

However, at the time human rights campaigners warned that the legislation would reduce claimant’s right to appeal.

Brooksbank said yesterday: “What experts feared and warned would happen has indeed come true; access to justice is reduced and we are left with a system, which is entirely unable to cope. The promise of extra funding to relieve the backlog has not been kept, and delays are increasing in the tribunals.

“The impact on children, some of whom are now living separated from their parents, is particularly significant and devastating.”

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