Legal immigrants distressed at receiving messages to leave UK

by duncan12 on January 3, 2013

A firm working for the government Capita’ which was contacted by the UK Border Agency (UKBA) in September to track down 174,000 illegal immigrants had wrongly told people living legally to leave the UK it has emerged.

Some of them who were contacted by text and email were a woman with a UK passport and a man with a valid visa who had invested £1m in a UK business.

Capita said some of the information provided by the UKBA may be inaccurate. The contract with Capita could be worth up to £40m. It is one of the largest contractors working on outsourced local and national government operations.

The Home Office, which runs the UKBA, has advised anyone contacted in error to contact them so records can be updated.

The standard text message, telephone or email reads as the message is from the UKBA and the recipient has to leave the UK as he / she no longer has the right to remain in the UK. It then advises the person to contact the agency.

The director of the Peterborough Racial Equality Council, MJ Ladha, was approached by a woman who had been contacted by Capita before Christmas.

Mr Ladha told the BBC the woman had been told she was an “over-stayer” and should prepare to leave the country but she holds a UK passport which was valid for 10 years.

This left the woman distressed and upset and whoever had done this did not know what they were talking about. Mr Ladha said he advised his client to complain to the UKBA.

He added the system was completely ineffective as, an over-stayer who gets a phone call, were not expected to just pick up their bags and go.

Immigration lawyers and advisers approached the government in an attempt to have the messages stopped over the Christmas period, but their request was refused.

Alison Harvey from the Immigration Law Practitioners Association told the BBC that they were concerned at reports of people who had valid leave to be in the UK receiving the texts and that over the holiday period it would be difficult for them to get in touch with their immigration solicitors and they would be anxious and distressed with no possibility of reassurance but their request was declined.

She added that despite some clients contacting Capita to update their records, the problem was not solved. Fellow lawyers had reported “clients talking to Capita to explain they have current leave, only to receive another text the next day.

It was difficult to get clear information about what was happening, she concluded.

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