Migration Observatory report reveals long delays for asylum seekers

Data released last week by the Migration Observatory suggests that decisions on asylum applications are taking “substantially” longer than they were five years ago.

The analysis, which is published in the new Migration Observatory briefing Migration to the UK: Asylum and resettled refugees, shows a sharp decrease in the number of claims decided within 6 months, from a recent peak of 80% in the second quarter of 2014, to just 25% in the last quarter of 2018. 

The change precedes a Home Office decision earlier this year to drop its six-month target to make an initial decision on most claims.

Dr Peter Walsh, a researcher at the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, and author of the briefing said: 

“A few years ago, a solid majority of asylum seekers got an initial decision within 6 months, but now it’s only one in four. This of course is just the first stage of the asylum process, and after you factor in appeals, the whole process can take years for many applicants.

“There is no single explanation for the falling share of decisions taken in 6 months. Factors that could have played a role include changes to policy and management, the complexity of the cases the Home Office receives, and of course budget constraints.”

Dr Sue Conlan, a senior immigration adviser at Paragon law, said: 

 “The delays at the Home Office are unacceptable and place an intolerable burden on people in need of protection in the UK.  The Home Office is not allocating their resources depending upon how long a person has been in the asylum process but instead takes into account their nationality and whether they came through another EU country.  It is difficult for lawyers to explain the discrimination and even harder for people to have any control over their lives”.

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