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UKBA’s backlog of marriage applications date back to 2003

There is a backlog of 14,000 requests from applicants for the UK Border Agency to re-consider decisions to refuse them further leave to remain, a new report by John Vine, Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, shows.

It also shows that there were a further 2,100 cases where applicants were still waiting for an initial decision on their application for further leave to remain – some dating back to 2003.

The Chief Inspector discovered an inconsistent approach between UK and overseas caseworkers when assessing whether an applicant could be maintained without access to public funds.

Mr. Vine also discovered an equally inconsistent approach between UK and overseas caseworkers when considering human rights in applications which are refused, with overseas staff rarely considering human rights when making a decision.

The Chief Inspector’s report further shows that specific consideration of the best interests of children was only given in one of the 21 refused applications for further leave to remain or settlement, and none of the 39 refused applications for entry clearance.

The percentage of allowed appeals in marriage cases was too high, the report pointed out. Some 53% of appeals were allowed between April 2011 and February 2012.

The Agency had, at some points, reviewed less than half of all allowed appeals due to a lack of available resources. As a consequence individuals may have been granted entry clearance and leave on the basis of appeal determinations that could have been challenged successfully.

The Chief Inspector also found some examples of good practice and effectiveness. For instance, the majority of decisions on marriage applications were reasonable and in accordance with the Immigration Rules.

The Agency had carried out security checks against all applicants in the Chief Inspector’s file sample in order to establish whether they had previous convictions or adverse immigration histories.

The Agency also made good use of information obtained overseas to detect people who should not be allowed to enter or remain in the UK.

Mr. Vine said: “Every year a substantial number of foreign nationals seek to enter or remain as married or civil partners of people already in the UK or overseas. I found that in most cases decisions on marriage applications were reasonable. I was also pleased to find that all the applicants had been checked against the Police National Computer and the Home Office Warnings Index.

“However, once again I was concerned to find backlogs within the Agency. These consisted of 14,000 requests from applicants to re-consider decisions to refuse them further leave to remain, and a further 2,100 cases where people were awaiting an initial decision on their application for further leave to remain. Some dated back nearly a decade. This is completely unacceptable and I expect the Agency to deal with both types of case as a matter of urgency.”
 
Mr. Vine added that “Immigration decisions can have a significant impact on children.”

He pointed out that his “inspection could find no evidence in the files that specific consideration was given to the best interests of children in 59 of the 60 cases where children were involved. In addition, I found that caseworkers in the UK routinely considered Human Rights, but this rarely happened when the application was made overseas.”
 

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Delays on marriage applications have terrible effects on families – JCWI