Despite the Tories' tough rhetoric on immigration, it is clear that they do not have a grip on the increasing demand for British visas.
Despite the Tories’ tough rhetoric on immigration, it is clear that they do not have a grip on the increasing demand for British visas
A report by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration has revealed glaring flaws in the Tories’ immigration policy.
John Vine stated that he was was ‘concerned to find that Nationality Casework was not scrutinising applications appropriately’, and that people’s immigration history was not being properly considered when deciding whether to grant them citizenship.
Vine also said that he ‘found no evidence of any consideration being given to prosecuting applicants who had used deception to obtain British citizenship, other than in a small number of cases involving organised crime’.
Far too much reliance, the inspectorate said, was being placed on self-declaration by applicants, and officials were not taking sufficient steps to verify applicant’s histories.
So unless someone applying for citizenship was willing to provide the information that they had a history of, for example, bankruptcy or tax avoidance, no further investigation was carried out.
There were also cases where more serious criminal histories were simply overlooked, including one man who was given citizenship despite admitting to fatally stabbing somebody in his home country.
There was also some concern about the people actually making the decisions about citizenship: ‘no checks of any sort were ever conducted on referees who were not British citizens’.
Despite the Tories’ tough rhetoric on immigration, it is clear that they do not have a grip on the increasing demand for British visas. The current system is being disastrously administered, but the government are still somehow confident that they can expand their controls.
In a statement, the Home Office responded to the report by saying that they were ‘committed to ensuring that citizenship is a privilege reserved for those who meet the requirements set out in the British Nationality Act 1981’.
They pledged to tighten their risk profiling to ensure that any applicant with a history of non-compliance received further scrutiny.
Despite the fact that the report was based on research conducted between April and May of this year, the immigration minister James Brokenshire blamed ‘wrong-headed decisions taken by the previous government’.
The report found that the number of applications for British citizenship had shot up from 157,057 in 2007 to 235, 256 in 2013, but the number of refusals had fallen sharply in the same time period.
Ruby Stockham is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow her on TwitterLike this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.