The Home Secretary, Theresa May has announced today that the UK Border Agency (UKBA) is to be split into two. There will be an immigration and visa service and a separate law enforcement command. Furthermore, it will no longer be an “agency” as such but will be brought back under the control of ministers.
Ms May believes that the Agency has problems that boil down to four main issues. Firstly, the large size of the Agency means that it has conflicting cultures, and often focuses on the crisis at hand instead of more important work. Secondly, she considered there to be a lack of transparency with an agency that is kept at arm’s length from ministers. Thirdly, the IT systems used at UKBA are deemed to be inadequate, requiring manual data entry rather than automated data collection. Fourthly, there is a vicious cycle of complex law and poor enforcement policies, which makes it harder to remove people who are in the UK illegally.
The intention is that there will now be one organisation that makes high-quality decisions about who is granted residence in the UK and gives a better level of customer service to business immigrants and visitors applying for visas.
The government anticipates the second organisation to have law enforcement as its priority, for instance carrying out compliance checks on employers with a sponsor licence.
Yesterday’s announcement is hopefully the beginning of a more efficient immigration system.