Who Watches the Watchmen? Immigration Inspectors Can Be Your Friends

This Tuesday I attended an Inside Government conference on Immigration in the UK: Ensuring Cohesion and Protecting Public Services, tackling in detail a current government agenda.  It was a very interesting and informative conference. The most useful thing I’ve learnt about was on the existence of the immigration system ‘watchmen’ and the role of two key regulatory bodies overseeing the UKBA. We can rely on their powers to work for us within the immigration sector.

The Office of the Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency, header by John Vine, in an independent regulator with powers to inspect and assess overall performance of UKBA, its practice and procedure in making decisions, the treatment of claimants and applicants, consistency of approach, discrimination in the exercise of functions, enforcement powers, the handling of complaints and country information (i.e. information on whether it would be safe to go back to the country of origin). Although, the remit of the Chief Inspector does not allow for consideration of individual cases, there are ways to work with other parties who can through a refugee and asylum forum.

Legal aid has been significantly reduced, leaving users vulnerable and in great need of sound legal advice. The current situation will therefore call for more and better immigration advice. Bad immigration advice ruins lives and wastes hard earned money.The Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner makes sure that immigration advisers are properly trained and licensed in order to prevent fraud. If you are a possible users, please check the OISC website to find out about licensed adviser, how you can become one, and how you can report a fraudulent immigration adviser.

While we aren’t necessarily ‘watching the watchmen’, we can get them to work for us. Even if these regulatory agencies cannot relieve injustices in individual cases, it is good to know that someone independent with real powers is watching and making sure that immigration system works properly, fairly and lawfully. You can help them do so by sharing this information with others. Spread the friendship widely.

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