UK Border Agency to be split in two
27 March 2013
In a statement this week to the House of Commons, Home Secretary Theresa May said that the UK Border Agency will be split in two: one part will focus on visas and immigration whilst the other part will deal with immigration law enforcement.
The UKBA has had notorious difficulties since it was formed in 2008, including a significant immigration casework backlog. A report issued by the Home Affairs Select Committee on Monday warned that the current immigration and asylum backlog would take 24 years to clear.
In reviewing the Agency's issues, May identified four main problems:
- The large size of the Agency, causing it to focus on crises at the expense of other work
- A lack of transparency and accountability
- Inadequate IT systems
- The policy and legal framework in which the Agency operates
May argues that dividing and restructuring the Agency will help resolve these issues. The dedicated visa service is intended to be able to deal with high volumes and make "high-quality decisions", providing better customer satisfaction to legal entrants to the UK and encouraging visitors, students and businesspeople to the country. The law enforcement section will be able to focus more on those who break the UK's immigration laws.
The smaller sizes of the two entities are intended to improve transparency and accountability; this will also be helped by the fact that they will be part of the Home Office and report to ministers, rather than being separate agencies.
A shared, more automated IT service will also be created across these two new sections, as well as the Passport Service, Border Force and immigration policy entities. This group will also be overseen by a strategic board and will be chaired by the Home Office Permanent Secretary.
May says that the policy and legal framework issue "makes it harder to remove people who are here illegally", so an Immigration Bill will be brought forward in the next session of Parliament.
May acknowledges that the immigration backlog will still take many years to clear but believes that these changes will make it easier to do this.