Legacy Casework and Citizenship

The UK Border Agency has come under criticism in its handling of the backlog of asylum cases known as the Legacy Casework.  The Home Affairs Committee has stated that 40% of cases dealt with under the Casework resulted in a grant of leave to remain and it “amounts to an amnesty”.

In 2006, the then Home Secretary, John Reid, notoriously declared the Home Office immigration sytem as “not fit for purpose” after a backlog of an estimated 400,000-450,000 unresolved asylum cases came to light.   These cases were termed “legacy” cases.  As a result, the UK Border Agency was established and a new “Case Resolution Directorate” set up to deal specifically with these legacy cases under an exercise called Legacy Casework.  Its objective was to completely clear the backlog within five years, by July 2011.  It took time to establish the the Case Resolution Directorate and it became fully operational in late 2007.  Legacy Casework was defined as ‘all asylum cases that are incomplete and are not being processed by regional asylum teams’.  All new cases lodged after March 2007 (and some lodged between March 2006 and March 2007) were dealt with by the New Asylum Model (NAM) and were called NAM cases.  The criteria for deciding these legacy cases was not publicly released by the Home Office or the UK Border Agency.  It was simply stated each case would be “considered on its merits and in line with exisiting policy and law”.

In a recent report, the Home Affairs Committee said the objective “seems to have been achieved largely through increasing resorts to grants of permission to stay” resulting in 161,000 such grants compared with only 38,000 removals.  These figures, according to the Committee, were indicative of an amnesty.  The Committee report also stated that the criteria for considering these legacy cases had become more generous in order to clear the backlog, allowing grants of stay to those who had been in the UK between 6-8 years, as opposed to 10-12 years previously.

Of a remaining 205,500 legacy cases 40,500 have been shelved because “the applicants cannot be found and it is unknown whether they are in the UK, have left the country or are dead.”  The rest of the cases are either duplicates, errors, EU nationals, awaiting removal or cannot be concluded for a specific reason.

The Case Resolution Directorate was wound down in April, 2011, having reviewed all legacy cases.  Those cases reviewed but not resolved have been taken over by the Case Assurance and Audit Unit (CAAU), Department 87, PO Box 306, Liverpool, L2 0QN.  The unit will exist for no more than two years, deciding cases in line with CRD priorities.  If you think your case should have been decided under the Legacy Casework Programme we may be able to help by pursuing your case with this new CAAU.

Those that were granted Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) as a result of the Legacy Casework Programme can apply for naturalisation as a British citizen a year after the grant of ILR.  Normally, an applicant for naturalisation would need to be not in breach of immigration laws for five years at the time of applying.  However, as the previous breaches of immigration laws were disregarded in granting ILR under Legacy Casework the UK Border Agency deems it appropriate to disregard the same breaches when considering citizenship applications from such individuals.  Please contact us if you would like further information or assistance in this matter.

Posted in English on Jun 06, 2011.