Delay in Processing of Immigration Claims Leaves Thousands of Applicants Waiting in UK
A total of 8,210 people waited for longer than six months before receiving a decision on their UK settlement application in 2017.
The UK Home Office is delaying an increasing number of applications for settlement in the country beyond its target time of six months, leaving thousands of immigrants waiting until their claims are processed, the Independent reported.
The proportion of applications taking more than six months to be processed by the government soared between 2014 and 2017, according to the report. As a result, despite a 22 percent drop in the number of applications processed — from 95,651 in 2014 to 74,952 in 2017 — the number of people being made to wait for longer than the Home Office’s customer service standard of six months has increased, the publication reported, citing data it obtained through a freedom of information request.
More than one in 10 applicants, making up a total of 8,210 people, waited for longer than six months before receiving a decision in 2017, as compared to 6 percent, or 5,627 people, in 2014, the report said. In the first six months of 2018, one in 20 or 2,618 people received their applications after waiting for more than a year in 2017, compared with 1,792 (1.9 percent) in 2014. A total of 221 decisions took over two years, with 13 people waiting for more than a decade and one case taking 29 years to be processed.
The fact that waiting times have increased despite a drop in the number of applications shows the government’s move to deter migrants as part of the hostile environment policy, the publication cited lawyers and politicians as saying.
To obtain UK settlement, which gives an immigrant the right to remain in the United Kingdom without a time limit, a person must have either lived in the country for more than five years or have a close family member settled in the country. The application fee is £2,389. The applicants’ passports are retained by the government while the process is ongoing, leaving them unable to work, leave the country, or claim benefits.
The Home Office told the publication that “occasional” delays happened due to the “complex nature” of certain applications, and that applicants could obtain their passports if they “chose to withdraw” their visa application. Rights activists and leaders, however, disagreed with the government’s explanation.
“We’re seeing the waiting time go up in all manner of immigration cases. It’s all too common to see people waiting for two years or more on these applications,” Satbir Singh, chief executive of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), was quoted as saying in the report. “Saying the case is ‘complex’ is often used as a convenient way to delay them for long periods of time.”
Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott also criticized the government for “not prioritizing” the delays despite the reduction in the number of applications being processed. “It is unfair and unacceptable to leave applicants waiting for long periods, concerned for their futures,” she added.