Immigration Demand 'Is Wildly Underestimated'
Byline: JAMES SLACK
MINISTERS have 'wildly' underestimated the number of migrants wanting to enter Britain, the country's top immigration judge said last night.
They failed to predict a huge upsurge in the number of visa applications, said Mr Justice Hodge, head of the Asylum Immigration Tribunal.
He said the focus on curbing asylum abuse may have shifted demand to the visa system. Instead of claiming to be refugees, migrants were applying for visas to work here, visit relatives or study.
His comments are a huge blow for the Home Office, which has trumpeted a dramatic fall in asylum numbers since 2004.
Mr Justice Hodge, husband of minister Margaret Hodge, said that, of 175,000 appeals the AIT expects to deal with this year, only 30,000 will be from asylum seekers. The rest will be from migrants wanting new or extended visas to live in the UK. In the past, there were 72,000 asylum appeals each year out of 100,000 cases. …