Some immigrants have been accidentally contacted by Capita and told to leave the UK as a result of inaccurate data used in a government push to remove thousands of illegal immigrants.
But the UK Border Agency (UKBA) has reassured legitimate migrants that if they mistakenly receive the message, which comes via email, text or phone call, they need only contact the UKBA.
According to a National Audit Office (NAO) report in 2011, there were as many as 181,000 illegal immigrants in the UK because their work visas had expired and the current immigration system lacks a process to ensure they leave UK shores.
"[The UKBA's] processes and systems are not efficient and customer service could be improved," said the NAO report. "The agency can also provide little assurance that it is effectively managing the risk of non-compliance with immigration rules by migrants and their sponsors."
The UKBA contracted Capita in September 2012 to help it track down illegal immigrants. According to reports, Capita is now contacting people when data shows they should no longer be in the UK. But inaccurate data means some people are being told to leave despite having the right to stay.
A UK Border Agency spokesperson said this was the first time a government has taken proactive steps to deal with cases that date back to 2008.
Read more about IT for immigration control
- Exeter University automates overseas student processing for UKBA compliance
- UK Border Agency ordered to crack down on bogus student visas
- UK Border Agency to introduce postal visa system following IT failure
- IT failures blamed for immigration system faults
A spokesman reassured those who are legitimate that they can contact the UKBA if they receive a message asking them to leave.
“Anyone who is here legally and has been contacted in error should contact us on the number provided so our records can be updated," he said. “We have to make sure we keep control over our immigration system and we will enforce the removal of anyone who refuses to go home voluntarily.”
Capita said in a statement: “The UK Border Agency has contracted the support of Capita to contact individuals (using letters, email, SMS and outbound telephone contact) whose records show that they have no valid right to be in the UK. In a small number of cases this might include individuals who are now here legally.
“Capita has been instructed to contact individuals direct, regardless of their legal representation, as many of the details the UK Border Agency has on file may be inaccurate and out of date given the age of the cases.”
The immigration system is vital to UK businesses that rely on services from offshore companies. Thousands of IT workers enter the UK every year, many of them from India, to work for the major Indian IT service providers that serve UK businesses.
Image courtesy of dannyman on Flickr