In July 2006 the then Home Secretary, John Reid MP announced that there were between 400,000 and 450,000 outstanding asylum applications with the Home Office. He committed to these being cleared by summer 2011. To carry out this work the Case Resolution Directorate (CRD) was established. Cases within the CRD had all been submitted before April 2007 and included:
- oustanding and undecided asylum applications, including those whose country of origin had since joined the EU, fresh asylum claims and those waiting for an appeal
- those who had been granted limited leave to remain and who had applied for an extenstion
- people who had been refused asylum and lost their appeals but still remained in the UK
- duplicate case files.
Case Resolution was not a general amnesty, although it has been widely reported in the press as such. UKBA was tasked with finding a rapid and permanent solution for those whose asylum applications had been open for a significant period. Rather than establishing a new form of status (which would strengthen the external view that case resolution was a form of amnesty) the Home Office granted status through existing and longstanding immigration rules, often referred to as Paragraph 395C.
The UKBA reported on progress with the exercise through updates to the Home Affairs Select Committee, transcripts for which are available on their website. Final figures relating to the exercise have not yet been published. However from previous updates, including the one to January 2011 we know that approximately 40% of the backlog cases resulted in a grant of status, the majority of these being Indefinite Leave to Remain.
Issues for those granted leave to remain
All of the people in the backlog had been waiting for a decision on their case for some time. For some, the delay was nearly 20 years long. Through research funded by the Rayne Foundation Employability Forum has been speaking to groups of case resolution clients in Scotland, Coventry, Leeds and London. On average people had been waiting for a final decision on their asylum application for 8 years. Key challenges to their integration are strongly related to the time spent waiting in limbo and include :
- destitution and homelessness
- lack of knowledge about rights and entitlements, or feeling that they belong as a settled member of the community
- accessing employment - with years where they of not being allowed to work, this group has had little work experience, large gaps in their CVs.
- lack of language skills - despite their length of time in the country many struggle with English
- difficulties in gaining documents to travel overseas to see their children and other family members
- exclusion from the refugee route to family reunion.
A report on our research into Case Resolution will be available in 2012. For more information please contact Beryl Randall.