Net migration will begin to rise again in less than two years as the Government runs out of options for restricting the number of foreign nationals entering the UK, a leading think-tank has warned.
While net migration is forecast to fall to 140,000 next year, from around 180,000 at the end of last March, it is likely to rise again in 2014, the Institute for Public Policy Research said.
The decline in net migration will be driven by lower numbers of international students from outside the EU, but this is likely to be short-lived, the IPPR said.
A crackdown on foreign students will see UK Border Agency conduct interviews with student-visa applicants from "high-risk" countries.
The damning report follows comments by the chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, Keith Vaz, earlier this month.
Mr Vaz said the number of unresolved cases that UKBA is dealing with - more than 300,000 - is "spiralling out of control".
He said: "There are now about the same number of cases awaiting resolution by UKBA as there are people living in Iceland."
Chief inspector of the UK Border Agency John Vine has made the following recommendations to the UK Border Agency:
- Routine checks against police records.
- Ensuring that accurate information is given to the Home Affairs Select Committee.
- Making a public commitment to resolve the backlog within a certain timeframe
Chief inspector of the UK Border Agency John Vine was asked to evaluate how well UKBA had handled the backlog of thousands of unresolved immigration cases.
Mr Vine said he believed little had been done to try to resolve the cases before they were passed over.
He said: "Through the inefficiency and delay of the agency, those who would otherwise have faced removal will have accrued rights to remain in the UK."
Mr Vine also criticised "poor" customer service, and said that a lack of resources meant that deadlines were often missed, even when legal action was threatened.
The report said: "The issue of limited resources also created a significant impediment to case clearance.
"As a result, timescales given to applicants or their representatives about the resolution of cases were frequently missed, even where litigation was being threatened."
- UK Border Agency (UKBA) staff dealt with a backlog of immigration cases so inefficiently that at one point 100,000 pieces of post were unopened.
- In March 2011, there were 147,000 unfinished cases that were passed to an audit unit tasked with dealing with the backlog.
- More than 150 boxes of post, including letters from applicants, MPs and lawyers, lay unopened.
- In a sample of 135 files examined as part of the inspection, each case had lain dormant for an average of 87 months before they were reopened in 2010 for consideration.
- The shortest period of inactivity was six months and the longest period of inactivity was 17 years and nine months.
- A total of 115 cases were found to have entered the UK illegally, and there were only 10 cases where active efforts had been made to trace absconders.
UK Border Agency (UKBA) staff dealt with a backlog of immigration cases so inefficiently that at one point 100,000 pieces of post were unopened, a report said today.
Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration John Vine found that security checks were not properly carried out on old cases and that workers had failed to check the records of other Government departments.
Applications were placed into an archive of unresolved cases after "very minimal work", despite the agency assuring MPs that "exhaustive" checks had been carried out, he concluded.
Prime Minister David Cameron's official spokesman said:
Asked whether there might be an amnesty for people in the backlog, the spokesman said: "That is not something we are considering."