Report slams immigration officials over visa delays

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Immigration officials in Sheffield have been critised for the length of time it takes them to deal with visa applications and the way senstive information was stored.

A report by John Vine, Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, he was ‘extremely concerned’, given the sensitive information contained in entrepreneur and investor applications, to find the files were stored overnight in crates in open-plan offices at the Home Office’s site in Sheffield city centre.

Mr Vine said: “We do not believe this is acceptable. We raised this with senior managers and as a result they agreed to store these files in lockable rooms with restricted access.”

Mr Vine also found applications considered at the Sheffield office, on Millsands, took more than eight times longer to decide than those at overseas sites.

Performance against service standards for applications made overseas was good with an average wait of 7.5 days, Mr Vine said, but applications considered in Sheffield took an average of 63 days.

Mr Vine: “This is a glaring inconsistency and represents extremely poor customer service.”

A Home Office spokeswoman said: “We recognise there is more to do in terms of customer service.”