The Home Office has denied that officials have been prioritising visa applications based on how profitable they might be to the Government, after whistleblowers made a string of claims about immigration services.
The whistleblowers also said civil servants ploughing through applications are “undertrained and overworked” and operating in a department that is in a state of crisis.
Claims made by individuals in an article published by The Guardian, suggested internal pressures had led to long waits for applicants to have their case dealt with.
One of the whistleblowers from the UK Visa and Immigration Unit (UKVI) said caseworkers have been ordered to kick applications for spousal visas “into the long grass” and instead process student visas, which are more lucrative for the directorate.
They claimed visa applications are often labelled “complex” or ”non-straightforward” by staff, thereby allowing for delayed processing times, but which they argued was “just a euphemism for ‘there’s more profitable stuff we could be doing’”.
However, a Home Office spokesperson said: “This year UKVI issued 2.6 million visas, and each application is dealt with on its individual merits. Standard overseas visa applications are prioritised on the facts of the case and not based on profit.
“Some applications can be incredibly complex and require more information before we come to a decision. Staff equally rely on a variety of sources and can, and do, ask for additional documentation where it is required and pertinent to the decision being made. If an application is delayed, the customer is informed.”
The whistleblower also said mistakes are routinely made in the handling of cases as a result of targets to deal with a certain number each day.
“Caseworkers don’t have time to request more documents if something is missing or if more information is needed,” the individual said.
“Sometimes they don’t even have time to read the applications properly.”
The second source, working in the Family and Human Rights Unit, said often junior administrators are given “complex” cases which should be carried out by managers.
And they added that there is an 18-month delay on FHRU cases, “because they are not subject to a service standard”.
The Home Office spokesperson said: “We do not recognise these claims made by anonymous sources about the Family and Human Rights Unit. We have dedicated and hardworking staff who are prepared to go the extra mile to provide a high level of service with what are often complex applications. Their individual workload is appropriate and dependent on their seniority and experience.
“Like any organisation there is a natural turnover of staff which is entirely understandable. New caseworkers receive the proper level of training, support and supervision to ensure they can effectively do their job.”