UK visa overstays double in five years, report claims

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Migration Watch UK, a think that lobbies for a reduction in UK immigration numbers, claims that the number of UK visa overstayers has doubled over the past five years. According to a report compiled by the think tank, in 2016, 49,420 people arrived in the UK on a visa, with no record of them leaving. Meanwhile, as of March 2020, this figure had risen to 91,863.


Additionally, the report states that a further 250,000 people per year, from at least 55 countries whose citizens do not require a UK visa for entry, could also be in Britain unlawfully, raising the total to 340,000. The report blasted government ministers for ‘failing to come clean to the public’ over what has happened to so-called overstayers.

According to Migration Watch UK’s report, the missing people with expired UK visas made up 4.8% of people who arrived in Britain whose visas ran out by the end of March 2020.


Non-visa nationals not covered

The report said: “These figures do not cover the largest tranche of non-EU visitors - so-called “non-visa nationals” who are citizens of 55 countries around the world who do not need a visitor visa in order to come here for a six-month stay.”

“The most recent investigation by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration found that the number of non-visa national visitors who were not recorded as leaving on time between 2015 and 2017 amounted to 500,000 in two years, or just over 250,000 per year,” the report added.

The government has so far declined to disclose recent figures on the number of UK visa overstayers, despite repeatedly being questioned on the issue by Parliament.

Migration Watch UK accused ministers of ‘failing to keep accurate data on UK visa overstayers’ and publish records that would help the public to ‘understand the scale of the problem.’


Data matching issues

The report compiled by Migration Watch UK said: “The failure to record departures may not always indicate overstaying but may be due to data matching issues or other anomalies or gaps. The government also says that there is more confidence in data on visa nationals than non-visa nationals because more information is held on them through their visa.”

“However, if the most recent figure of 92,000 people here on visas who were not recorded as departing in time were taken alongside the most recent equivalent published annualised figure for non-visa national visitors not recorded as departing on time during 2015-17, the total would be 340,000 per year,” the report added.

According to Migration Watch, the completion of Brexit has seen 27 EU countries join the 55 from which a UK visit visa is not required for short-term stays.

Migration Watch UK misleading 

Despite Migration Watch UK’s report, the think tank has been heavily criticised in the past for publishing misleading reports and sensationalising figures to portray a particular narrative on immigrants.

In 2016, editor, Ian Dunt, slammed Migration Watch UK for falsifying ‘facts’ about UK immigration.

Dunt described how the think tank ‘contorts the facts about immigrants and uses them as a weapon.’ can help with Sponsor Licences

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