Home Office’s dazzling immigration system glitches causing delays

UKVI issues update about eVisas
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The Home Office’s new immigration case management system is having technical problems that are frustrating personnel and delaying claims.

According to iNews, technical issues with the new Atlas case management system have led to “serious delays and errors” some of which were deemed “critical incidents.” Home Office staff have been left “sobbing” and have seen data supposed to be on Atlas “evaporate into thin air,” the news outlet reported.

In response, a Home Office spokesperson failed to deny there were problems with the system.

“Atlas successfully processes approximately 120,000 applications per month, including asylum applications; security checks and production of Biometric Residence Permits. Where IT issues occur in a minority of cases, they are resolved as a priority by dedicated technical support teams.

“We are investing in our digital infrastructure to create a modern asylum case-working system that is subject to continuous improvement and initiatives,” a spokesperson said.

By September of last year, plans to discontinue use of the Casework Information Database (CID), which was created in Visual Basic 6 and dated back to 2000 [PDF], were shelved without a replacement timeline in place. The Home Office omitted to disclose the date of CID’s retirement this week.

By the end of June 2023, over 175,000 people—a 44 percent year-over-year increase—were still in the process of applying for refugee status, setting a record for the official backlog of asylum claims.

The National Audit Office, an independent UK spending watchdog, said in June last year that the Home Office expected to decommission its old system by September 2023, “but progress will depend on managing competing demands for design and digital capacity from other Home Office digital programmes, such as the Future Border and Immigration System.”

In a written Parliamentary statement in February, Conservative MP Tom Pursglove, minister legal migration, said: “Increasingly since 2023, applications to remain in the United Kingdom have been processed on the new caseworking system, Atlas.

“It is a complex system that has many integrated services such as security checking, sending notifications to applicants, triggering the production of biometric residence permits cards or creation of digital status. Whilst there have been some issues encountered as Atlas has been developed, no systemic issues have been identified that have caused concerns to be raised with the third-party IT suppliers helping develop and support Atlas. Most technical issues are resolved within days,” he said.

Atlas has been put together by a number of suppliers, including Accenture, Mastek and PA Consulting. Contracts started from 2020, with deals worth a total of around £79.7 million.

A report released last month by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration (ICIBI) found poor data as well as technical difficulty hampered immigration claims.

“I described it last year as ‘inexcusably awful’. It remains an accurate description in many areas of Home Office business,” David Neal said in his report.

“Without accurate data the Home Office will struggle to prioritise and respond to situations and people will suffer. Steps are being taken to address this at a strategic level, and future inspections will see how effective this is. The transition from the case working system CID to Atlas is often cited as the reason but poor data is everywhere.”


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