Tens of thousands of asylum seekers have applied to stay in Britain after either living in the country illegally or overstaying their visas, official figures show. Between 2005 and 2014, 83,912 asylum claims were made by people “encountered by local immigration and enforcement staff” – meaning they did not apply as soon as they arrived in Britain or when they thought it was unsafe to return home, as set out by immigration rules.
A total of 11,035 of those claims were made in 2014, the latest year for which Home Office figures were available, compared with just 2,150 in 2005. The 2014 figure was the highest for the decade. Just 13,892 were granted asylum, while 5,388 received another form of immigration status. The claims of the vast majority (48,489) were refused.
The figures were released by the Home Office in a written parliamentary answer.
Commons Home Affairs Select Committee chairman Keith Vaz told the Times, which analysed the figures: “It is deeply concerning that a third of all asylum applications have been made by illegal migrants and overstayers.The very principle of seeking asylum is that you feel persecuted at the time you arrive, not saying you feel persecuted after arriving illegally or for different reasons and then remaining in the country until you are apprehended.This is a significant clog in the immigration system, and we should ensure that this is not to the detriment of vulnerable people with a legitimate claim of asylum. It is one thing for the Government to say it’s tough on illegal immigration – it’s another to actually take control of issues like these.”