A new crisis: the asylum appeal backlog

Legal Updates

Figures released at the beginning of February 2024 have revealed the shocking increase in the backlog of Asylum and Immigration Tribunal cases. This means that more and more people are waiting for a very long time to have their appeal heard by the courts. This is a brand new backlog, which means that people are facing even more delays through the asylum process. 

The asylum backlog

We are all familiar with the asylum backlog; that is, the fact that people seeking asylum in the UK have been waiting months, if not years, for a decision from the Home Office on their application. You can read more about Home Office delays on asylum decisions in our Legal Update here

The Home Office has stated its intention to ‘clear’ this asylum decision backlog through several initiatives. Some have had some positive results: for example, the Streamlined Asylum Process. Though many people have received positive decisions through this route, it has also caused much confusion and anxiety due to the lack of legal advice, and tight deadlines. 

Other Home Office initiatives have had severely negative impacts, for instance, the increase in the Home Office’s attempts to withdraw more asylum claims from the system. 

The appeals backlog

When someone receives a refusal from the Home Office on their asylum claim (or other immigration application), they will typically have the right to appeal this decision in court.

The key issue revealed by the figures is that although the number of appeals in the backlog has increased significantly – from 4,500 in October 2023 to more 6,000 in November 2023 – the number of appeals being heard in the courts has stayed the same (around 3,000 per month). This means that the tribunal system (court) does not have the capacity to hear the number of appeals, and this will only increase the number of people waiting to have their appeals heard. 

Another issue is the fact that there are not enough lawyers to represent people who have a pending appeal. This means that, after waiting a very long time for an initial decision only to receive a refusal, more people are facing further delays in the appeal system, and then representing themselves at their hearings. 

We know that this is distressing, and extremely frustrating. Although we at Right to Remain cannot provide direct advice or representation, we do have useful guides about the appeal process, including how to prepare and submit an appeal form, and how to represent yourself on the day of the hearing. 

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