Great Britain continues its struggle against uncontrolled migration. Recently the British National Audit Office expressed its deep discontent with the work of the Border Agency, the main task of which is to control the migration of non-EU workers. Meanwhile, Immigration Minister Damian Green announced the introduction of radical reforms designed to confront the flow of economic migrants and foreign students.
The British National Audit Office – the main instrument of control over government spending – expressed its dissatisfaction with the Border Agency estimates that up to 181,000 migrants, who should have left UK since December 2008, may still be in the country.
According to an NAO statement, the agency «does not do enough» to check that people have left once their visas expires. The UK Border Agency was formed in 2008 to control points-based immigration for non-EU persons. Since 2008 about 182,000 migrants from outside the European Economic Area have legally entered the UK for work and a further 179,000 already in the UK have received the right to remain in the country.
Following the results of the report, the National Audit Office stated that while the system was well designed to meet immigration goals, it still wasn’t providing full value for the budget money due to inefficient operations.
The NAO said that one of the main causes of failure became the fact that agency relies on employers to control the points-based system. According to the NAO statement, the agency could not present precise data on how many employers it had checked before allowing them to employ migrant workers.
Only 15% of the 22,000 employers were visited by agency officers before they were granted an employment license and visits were not well managed because of conflicting demands on officers. Migrants already in UK, whose applications for a visa extension have already been rejected weren’t routinely checked to make sure that they had left the country.
“The agency estimates there may be up to 181,000 migrants in total (not just entering through the system) in the UK whose permission to remain has expired since December 2008,” says the NAO report. “The agency has not taken enough systematic action to ensure, where it can, that migrants leave the UK when they are no longer entitled to remain”
The report also stressed the inefficiency of the entire control system. “This has been due partly to a lack of exit checks, making it difficult to identify overstayers and to IT systems which cannot identify individuals needing to renew their visas”.
The Border Agency was also largely criticized for not giving immigrants enough guidance in filling in requisite forms and supplying necessary documents. At the same time the agency officers said that the whole system made it difficult to check that migrants’ documents were valid, while the agency had no discretion to refuse an application unless the documents were proven t be.
Summing up its assessment, the National Audit Office said the Border Agency didn’t have an “adequate grip” on the process of migration control.
The whole situation demonstrates Britain’s quest to finally get a grip control on the problem. The fact that the government takes the situation seriously is proven by the extreme measures recently announced by officials.
Immigration Minister Damian Green said radical reforms were already proposed, including a reduced number of economic migrants and changes to student visas – a measure highly criticized by top representatives of the UK’s education system.
“We are also committed to reintroducing exit checks by 2015,” said Green, “Counting people in and out of the country will give us better control over those that overstay….We are determined to reduce net migration to the tens of thousands, and clamp down on immigration abuses.”