Legitimate immigrants told to leave by UK Border Agency

Published: 07/01/2013

Capita, a private company that has won a £40 million UK Border Agency contract to trace over 174,000 migrants who are living in the country illegally, from September 2012 has been using text messaging and emails to tell them that they are required to leave the UK. Unfortunately, many people receiving these SMS and emails are in the country legally including one of our clients who received this message despite the fact that he is in the process of getting his further leave to remain (FLRm) based on marriage to a UK Citizen, which was submitted before his initial visa expired.
The text message is very blunt and to the point, and many people have not surprisingly found it very distressing to receive. It reads ‘Message from the UK Border Agency: You are required to leave the UK as you no longer have the right to remain.’ It then goes on to urge the person receiving the text to contact the Border Agency immediately. Despite requests from the Immigration Law Practitioner’s Association, the texts and emails were sent over the Christmas period, which meant that many people were very worried and upset over the holiday as they could not contact anyone for confirmation that the text was an error.
Capita have gone on record as saying that they were working on the basis of information received from the UKBA. A representative said, ‘A contact telephone number is provided for applicants to discuss their case, and any individual contacted who believes they have valid leave should make use of this number. Capita has been instructed to contact individuals regardless of their legal representation as many of the details the UK Border Agency has on file may be inaccurate and out of date given the age of the cases.’
The UK Border Agency has admitted that the problem lies with the lack of accuracy of its records. They ask anyone contacted in error to contact the UKBA so that the records can be updated. ‘Where our records show that people are here illegally, it is vital [that] we are able to contact them as we are determined that they should return home. This is the first time a government has taken proactive steps to deal with this pool of cases, some of which date back to December 2008.’
The ‘migration refusal pool’ of 174,000 was disclosed in July 2012 during an investigation by independent inspector of immigration, John Vine. At the time, the UKBA said that almost 80,000 had not been formally told to leave Britain, but that many may have left voluntarily. The reason for using the private contractor was to attempt to speed up the process. It remains to be seen whether these measures will help the UK Border Agency track down thousands of illegal immigrants. Meanwhile, the Home Secretary Theresa May has promised to look into the cases of legal immigrants entitled to live in the UK who have recently received text messages instructing them to leave the country.

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