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UK Border Force staff cut but more officers deployed at Heathrow | Immigration Matters

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The BBC reports that leaked figures obtained by the Labour Party reveal that around 880 officers (10%) have been cut from the UK Border Force since 2010.

A further 1,550 officer posts could go by 2014/15, the BBC understands.

Shadow home office minister Yvette Cooper said ministers were being complacent over the level of chaos experienced by UK travellers at Heathrow airport border control.

Immigration Minister Damian Green said 80 extra staff were being drafted in to cut queues, among other measures.

The Public and Commercial Services union warned the government was “putting a sticking plaster on a serious injury” by drafting in staff from other areas to work at Heathrow.

Mark Serwotka, its general secretary, said: “It will do nothing to stop the inevitable from happening. Everyone can see that the Government’s obsession with austerity isn’t working and that what UK Border Agency needs is more staff, not more cuts.”

Mr Green visited Terminal 3 at the London airport on Tuesday, when queues were around five minutes long and around half the border control desks were manned.

He said the issue was not just about staff numbers, but about how and when they were deployed, adding the Border Force needed to be more flexible.

“Of course there is a problem – that is why I have spent some time explaining what we are doing about it,” he admitted.

He said airports were taking “significant steps” to ensure the right channels were open at the right time.

A new central control room is being established at Heathrow to mobilise teams of border staff at terminals where queues may be beginning to build up.

A new rota system would begin in May which will make the system more flexible, and he guaranteed that all border control desks would be fully manned during the London Olympic Games, which start on 27 July.

BBC home affairs correspondent Tom Symonds said the central cause of the issue was that staff numbers were cut on the basis that more selective passport checks would be done, then the government decided to reintroduce the full checks.

Sir Keith Mills, deputy chairman of Olympic Games organiser Locog warned the issue was damaging the Olympic mission to promote Britain abroad and win business.

He told the London Evening Standard: “The damage is being done right now.”

Heathrow’s owner BAA, which earlier urged the Home Office to address the issue, said it welcomed the government’s recognition that the queue times were “unacceptable”.

“We are encouraged by the announcement of additional border resources for Heathrow and welcome the new sense of urgency being shown by the government to tackle this problem,” a spokeswoman said.

Earlier, airline boss Willie Walsh accused the government of misleading the public over the length of the wait.

Mr Green claimed on Monday that non-EU nationals were waiting no longer than 90 minutes to enter the country.

But Mr Walsh – the boss of British Airways’ parent company IAG said a more-detailed analysis using data and CCTV footage from Heathrow’s owners BAA showed some passengers queued for two hours and 31 minutes on 27 April.

Between January and March, the average waiting time across all UK airports was six minutes for UK and EU citizens, and 25 minutes for non-EU passengers. Source: BBC.

Processing delays are also being experienced by migrant groups applying for visa extensions, Indefinite Leave to Remain and  UK Naturalisation or British Citizenship.

Yellow Card applications for Bulgarians and Romanians are taking up to six months on postal applications. A year ago it took 3 to 4 weeks to obtain a yellow card to study and work in the UK.

Bulgarians and Romanians coming to the UK on Yellow Card registration permits can work and study full time if they are taking a work-based vocational course such as NVQ or QCF courses in Health and Social Care.  

See also:

UK faces fine from EU over immigration and free movement restrictions on Eastern Europeans

Romanian EU migrants head for London jobs ahead of Olympics

London Olympic motto unveiled as 100-day countdown begins

How Romanians and Bulgarians working illegally without Yellow Card or papers can legalise their status in the UK

EU Commissioner calls for end to UK work restrictions on Bulgarians and Romanians

7 tips for completing a Yellow Card BR1 application to work and study in the UK

Employment restrictions for Bulgarians and Romanians extended until end of 2013 

Is Heathrow Border Force ready for Olympics?

Yellow or Blue Card Refused – Appeal or Reapply?

If you need any immigration advice or help with Sponsorship or Work Permits, Visa, ILR/Settlement, Citizenship, dependant visa or an appeal against a refusal please email: or visit 

Majestic College offer special packages for EU students. They also have a number of employers looking for staff right now and are willing to employ Bulgarians and Romanians. 

For more information call Joanna on 0208 207 1020 or email


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