Waiting for Nothing

17 March 2021 StatusNow4All: Waiting for years – then told we must reply in 10 days!

People are telling us that they have recently received letters asking them to resubmit their original application for asylum or Further Leave to Remain and any updating evidence, within 10 days, or their case will be determined on the basis of documents already in the Home Office. The Home Office has told another person’s solicitor that they have lost the casefile.

We raise the following points:

  • We know that the Home Office has lost people’s papers through the years, but we ask if in this ‘broken system’ the number of ‘lost’ files has increased over the last two years;
  • Does the request for papers to be resubmitted mean that the case file has been lost anyway – why ask for original documents and not just any updating papers, if the Home Office already has them;
  • What happens if people relied on their solicitor to keep their papers safe, and that firm no longer exists, or if the solicitor no longer has the papers on the basis that they are with the Home Office – there is no time for people to request a copy of their file from the Home Office;
  • Who pays for the solicitor to resubmit the case file? It’s unfair to expect asylum seeker to bear the price of home office losing ones file;
  • Does this mean people have been waiting for nothing, sometimes for years, waiting for a decision that would not be made because their papers were ‘lost’ by the Home Office?
  • Consider the stress and anxiety these letters have caused;
  • During the pandemic things have slowed down so being given ten days to put a new file together is an unrealistic ask from people who already have a lot going on;
  • It can take months to put application together due to the expectations of the Home Office in relation to what they consider to be ‘credible’ evidence;
  • There are worries about privacy as the files contain very sensitive information which will put applicants at risk if it surfaced – where are these files likely to be if they can’t be tracked within the Home Office system?
  • How will the original documents be retrieved should a negative asylum decision be given, because every previous application is the starting point for ones future applications.

The Home Office MP Account Management Team, UK Visas and Immigration and Her Majesty’s Passport Office has responded in a letter dated 15 March 2021 on a related matter:

We are fixing a broken asylum system and creating a new one which will be fairer
and firmer and compassionate towards those who need our help. There are a
number of factors that contribute to the length of time to process asylum claims but
we are determined to clear the backlog, speed up decisions and prevent people
becoming stuck in the system for long periods of time.

Asylum Operations has developed a recovery plan focused on returning interviews
and decisions back to pre-COVID-19 levels as soon as possible. We are also
seeking to secure temporary resources to assist from within the Home Office and
other government departments, along with other potential options.

We do not need to ask what the solution to this chaos is, as people’s lives drift by waiting for an answer that may never come:

We call upon the British and Irish States to act immediately so that all undocumented, destitute and migrant people in the legal process in both the UK and Ireland are granted Status Now, as in Indefinite Leave to Remain. In this way every human, irrespective of their nationality or citizenship can access healthcare, housing, food and the same sources of income from the State as everyone else.