Waiting times for immigration appeals in the UK have soared by 45 per cent in the space of a year. Applicants are now waiting an average of nearly 12 months, figures show.
The Ministry of Justice said the considerable increase in waiting times between 2016 and 2017 was due to a “significant reduction” of an “outstanding caseload” as they cleared older cases during that period.
However, the increased delays mean families and individuals challenging refusals for them to stay in Britain waited on average 52 weeks for their appeals to be processed last year, compared with an average of 31 weeks in 2016.
Figures show that 50 per cent of these appeals are successful. This means many of those who rightfully challenge the decisions are forced to wait and “put their life on hold”. This is despite them having a right to be in the UK.
The rise in waiting times comes despite a decrease in the number of immigration appeals lodged. The appeals plummeted from 25,000 in 2014 to 7,000 last year.
Publishing the figures in response to a Written Question, Justice Minister Lucy Frazer said: “The average clearance time, which is measured from receipt of an appeal to its conclusion, went up between 2015-16 and 2016-17 because of the Tribunal significantly reducing its outstanding caseload and clearing older cases during that period.
“Outstanding caseload has now reduced from 64,800 in June 2016 to 35,100 at the end of December 2017.”
Campaigners warn the long waiting times leave vulnerable people and families facing long periods of uncertainty. These can have a negative impact on the health and wellbeing of those who have fled conflict and persecution.
Prominent immigration and asylum barrister Colin Yeo said: “It’s a ridiculous increase. It’s particularly cruel for those looking to come to the UK, often to join family members, and having to wait months and months for an appeal hearing.”