Chief Inspector’s report accuses Home Office of poor record-keeping

A new report by Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration shows that the Home Office was carrying out poor record-keeping of Tier 1 applications making it impossible to access almost half of the decisions.

The report also shows that inconsistent customer service and poor forecasting had led to lengthy delays in processing UK applications.

Tier 1 of the Points Based System is intended to encourage foreign nationals who will contribute to the UK’s economy to come to the UK. People who wish to enter or remain in the UK as entrepreneurs or investors can apply under this route.

There were 1,682 entrepreneur and 594 investor applications during the financial year 2011 – 2012.

The Chief Inspector found that all necessary security checks were carried out on Tier 1 applications. There were also effective links between decision-makers and intelligence units within the Home Office, providing an important safeguard against fraudulent applications.

The Chief Inspector’s report further confirmed that 91% of decisions on investor cases were reasonable.

Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, John Vine, CBE QPM, said: “I was pleased to find that all necessary security checks were being carried out on Tier 1 applications. Effective links between intelligence units and caseworkers meant important safeguards were in place against fraudulent applications. However, it is unacceptable that I was unable to assess the reasonableness of decisions made in 42% of cases.”

Mr. Vine said he “was extremely concerned that in Sheffield case files were stored in crates in open plan offices overnight.” He raised the issue with senior managers who agreed to store the files in lockable rooms with restricted access.

“I also found applications considered in Sheffield took more than eight times longer to decide than those made overseas. This is a glaring inconsistency and represents extremely poor customer service,” Mr. Vine said.

The Chief Inspector further noted that the Home Office had significantly underestimated the scale of the increase in entrepreneur applications following the closure of the Tier 1 Post Study work route. The applications rose by 1,520% between February and December 2012. As a result, the Home Office did not have the resources in place to deal with the applications and a backlog of 9,000 cases developed.

“Whilst this had reduced by over 70% by July 2013, the Home Office must ensure dealing with these applications is not achieved at the expense of decision quality,” Mr. Vine said.

The Chief Inspector recommended to the Home Office to improve decision quality on entrepreneur applications, and to make better application intake forecasts when there is a policy change to prevent future backlogs developing.

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