The Home Secretary announced at the end of March that the UK Border Agency would be abolished and replaced with two separate functions that would both sit under the umbrella of the Home Office again. Yesterday, in addition, the new directors for these two departments were also announced.
UK Visas and Immigration will be the department that processes applications for visas and further leave to remain in the UK with the intention of offering applicants a high-volume, high-quality service, whilst aiming to improve customer satisfaction. This department will be headed up by Sarah Rapson who is joining from the Identity and Passport Service where she has been Chief Executive since July 2010.
Immigration Enforcement on the other hand will focus on ensuring that UK immigration laws are upheld, as well as taking a tough approach with immigration offenders. This function will be headed up by David Wood who spent 31 years with the Metropolitan Police Service tackling international organised crimes before joining the Home Office in 2006, where most recently he has held the position as the Deputy Chief Executive of the UK Border Agency.
Amongst speculation that the changes have only been announced in order to boost the Prime Minister’s “anti-Ukip” immigration policies, it will remain to be seen whether the changes really will bring about the improvements that have been promised. It has only been 5 years since the UKBA was created by a merger of the Border and Immigration Agency (BIA), UK visas and the Detection functions of HM Revenue and Customs. At the time, the decision to create a single border control organisation was taken following criticism from the Parliamentary Ombudsman for consistently poor service, a backlog of hundreds of thousands of cases, and a large and increasing number of complaints. The concerns that we are simply treading over old ground and that real changes won’t be seen unless additional resources are found for both functions are therefore well-founded to say the least.
I hope you have found this useful. As many changes are being implemented in the coming months, we will be sure to keep you updated on the latest news. If you do have any queries or how some immigration changes may affect you, please do not hesitate to contact us or call us on 0207 001 2121 as one of our specialists will be pleased to assist you.