Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration calls for an improvement of the Home Office’s family reunion applications handling

  • The Home Office is too ready to reject family reunion applications when applicants fail to provide sufficient evidence of their eligibility
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  • Withdrawal of Home Office commissioned and funded DNA tests identified as a major reason for first time application refusals
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  • The ICIBI report invites the Home Office to recognise the impact of avoidable delays on applicants

David Bolt, Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration (ICIBI), calls on the Home Office to better manage family reunion applications and show more understanding of the circumstances and difficulties faced by applicants coming from areas of conflict.

Under existing rules family members of individuals who have been granted asylum in the UK, or five years’ humanitarian protection, can apply to be reunited with their family.

The ICIBI inspection found that since the Home Office stopped commissioning and funding DNA tests to establish family relationships the number of family reunion applications rejected for failure to produce sufficient evidence has doubled for certain nationalities.

Inspectors also found that family reunion applications are often refused rather than being deferred to allow applicants to produce the missing evidence. This means that individuals who are eligible for family reunion are delayed in receiving entry clearance. While it accurately reflects the rules, Home Office guidance to applicants should be more helpful in identifying the evidence they are likely to need to provide in order for their applications to succeed.

Mr Bolt asks decision makers to consider all available evidence when processing family reunion applications and, in line with Home Office rules, to take exceptional circumstances and compassionate factors into account when making their decision.

David Bolt said:

“The family reunion report identifies a number of areas where the Home Office needs to improve.  Applicants, stakeholders and others need to be reassured that the Home Office recognises the particular challenges facing many family reunion applicants, and that it manages applications not just efficiently and effectively, but thoughtfully and with compassion”.

Notes to editors

  1. The family reunions report looks at the clarity of the Home Office guidance, the quality and timeliness of decision making and the handling of appeals and re-applications.
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  2. The Home Office has published its response to the 10 recommendations made by the family reunion report.
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  3. The majority of family reunion applications are from Somali, Eritrean and Sudanese nationals and the inspection specifically examines these cases and experiences.
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  4. The inspection also looked at the handling of Kuwaiti Bidoon applications, following concerns expressed by stakeholders.
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  5. The report was submitted to the Home Secretary on the 18 July 2016.

Further information

For further press information, please contact Claudia Cimino at 020 3513 0448

Re-inspection of Heathrow Airport – Border Force makes progress but there’s room for improvement.

Border Force at Heathrow made good progress in complying with guidance on detention and searching of passengers, said David Bolt, Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration (ICIBI). In his re-inspection report published today, Mr Bolt recognises that Border Force’s performance at Heathrow Airport improved.

The re-inspection found that the Home Office acted upon the recommendations made by the ICIBI Heathrow Airport inspection, conducted in 2014. Some issues identified in the previous inspection, however, still persist. More should be done to enforce the law, without exceptions, on passengers carrying undeclared alcohol or tobacco goods in excess of their duty free allowance. Border Force also failed to maintain records in relation to searches of passengers.

Mr Bolt said: “I am pleased that standards in Border Force’s operations raised as a result of the recommendations this inspectorate made in 2014. But some areas require further attention and senior managers will need to do more to achieve the necessary improvements. “

Notes to editors

  1. The report published today examines what progress were made on the six recommendations made in the ICIBI Heathrow Airport inspection report, published in 2015.
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  2. The 2015 report made six recommendations for improvement to the Home Office:
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    – To maintain accurate records for every passenger in detention.
    – To ensure all searches of persons are conducted according to guidance.
    – To inform all passengers on their right to appeal prior to a search.
    – To provide consistent guidance across all staff on how to produce and keep notes for the searches conducted by staff.
    – To ensure all notes relating to passenger searches are stored according to guidance.
    – To consistently enforce the law when passengers attempt to enter the UK with a quantity of goods that exceed the allowance.
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  3. The re-inspection of Border Force operation at Heathrow Airport was conducted in May 2016 and it was submitted to the Home Secretary on Monday 18 July 2016
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  4. The ICIBI committed to re-inspect where the Home Office has accepted recommendations from previous reports to examine what has been done. The Heathrow Airport report published today is the first of this kind
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  5. The Home Office response to the Heathrow Airport re-inspection report.

‘Lorry drops’, Country of Origin Information and Intelligence reports published today

The Secretary of State has today published the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration’s report on the Home Office response to ‘lorry drops’. The report examines how effectively the Home Office managed the increase in the number of migrants who entered the UK concealed in a heavy goods vehicle.

The report found that the Home Office had maintained the quality of its initial response despite the significant increase in ‘lorry drops’. The report also found that:

  • there was a risk that minors placed in the care of social services would run away
  • the Home Office was not as strong when identifying potential victims of trafficking
  • the number of initial decisions on asylum claims fell well short of the increased number of claims made.

The inspection looked at how the Home Office worked with its partners, in particular with police forces, when dealing with ‘lorry drops’. It also examined how it handled the immigration cases of the individuals encountered.

The Home Office accepted three recommendations in full and three in part, out of the six recommendations made by the report.

Notes to editor

The report published today was submitted to the Secretary of State on 27 April 2016. It makes six recommendations for improvements.

Today, the Home Secretary has also laid before Parliament two reports by the Independent Chief Inspector David Bolt:

Alongside the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration’s inspection report, the Home Office has published its responses to the reports published today.

The administrative review inspection report and Annual Report 2015/16 are published

A report on the inspection of the administrative review processes introduced following the 2014 Immigration Act

David Bolt, Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, has today published a report on his inspection of the Home Office’s processes for administrative reviews of immigration cases. In his foreword, at page 2 of the report, Mr Bolt provides an overview of key findings and recommendations from the inspection.

Background to this inspection

Administrative review was introduced as part of the 2014 Immigration Act. Administrative reviews were designed to provide a cost effective mechanism for resolving immigration case working errors, replacing the right of appeal to the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal.

In response to concerns of MPs and peers about the effectiveness and independence of the proposed new process, as the 2014 Act required the Secretary of State, within a year of the legislation coming into force, to commission a report by the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration.  The report published today deals directly with those concerns.

Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration – Annual Report 2015/16

Today, the Independent Chief Inspector has also published his annual report 2015/16, in which he also announces that the Home Secretary has extended his contract by three years. Mr Bolt was originally appointed for a two year term ending on 30 April 2017. This extension to his appointment has enabled him to take a longer-term and more strategic approach to the work of the Inspectorate, as reflected in his three year inspection plan contained within the report.



The Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration launches 2016 survey

The Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration has today launched a survey to gauge your views on the work of the Inspectorate. The findings from this survey will be used to improve the way we work and how we communicate and engage with stakeholders.

The survey takes approximately 10 minutes to complete and asks for feedback on a number of critical areas of the ICIBI’s work over the last 12 months, including our inspections and reports.

The survey is open until Monday 27 June 2016.

If you have any questions or experience difficulties with the on-line survey, please contact or call 020 3513 0448.