Legal migrants wrongly asked to leave UK

People with valid leave to be in the UK have been incorrectly asked to leave the country by Capita, a firm working for the government, BBC has reported.

On 29th October 2012, Capita signed a contract with the UK Border Agency (UKBA) to trace and contact overstayers and assist them in removing the barriers to their return to their home countries.

The company has been contacting migrants by text message, telephone or email.

The standard text message sent to migrants reads: "Message from the UK Border Agency. You are required to leave the UK as you no longer have the right to remain." It then advises people to contact the agency.

According to BBC reports, among those contacted by text and email were a woman with a UK passport, and a man with a valid visa who had invested £1m in a UK business.

Capita said some of the information provided by the UKBA may be inaccurate.

The Home Office has advised anyone contacted in error to contact them so records can be updated.

Alison Harvey from the Immigration Law Practitioners Association told the BBC: "We were concerned at reports of people who had valid leave to be in the UK receiving the texts and that over the holiday period it would be difficult for them to get in touch with their lawyer and they would be anxious and distressed with no possibility of reassurance. Our request was declined.

"People will no doubt assume that the texts are spam as sending texts through a sub-contractor for a matter of this gravity is not what one would expect from a government department."

In a statement, Capita said: "A contact telephone number is provided for applicants to discuss their case, and any individual contacted who believes they have valid leave should make use of this number.

"Capita has been instructed to contact individuals direct regardless of their legal representation as many of the details the UK Border Agency has on file may be inaccurate and out of date given the age of the cases".

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