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Hopeless helpline


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This bit of BBC research will come as no surprise to anyone who has attempted to use a UKBA helpline.

The waiting time for a phone call to the UK Border Agency is almost seven minutes and then 70% of calls are abandoned or go unanswered.

It is all but impossible to get through and then all but impossible to get any sense out of the person at the other end if you do. The booking line for making further representations in Liverpool is said to be far and away the worst. I’ve heard horror stories of literally hundreds of attempts to get through, meticulously documented in the vain hope of persuading UKBA to make improvements.

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The Free Movement blog was founded in 2007 by Colin Yeo, a barrister at Garden Court Chambers specialising in immigration law. The blog provides updates and commentary on immigration and asylum law by a variety of authors.


6 Responses

  1. Same experience here last year with my partner – they seem to have staffed lines only one hour a day, if not one hour a week! We tried about 30 times an hour, four hours a day. Indeed, 0870 numbers are 10p a minute. The complaint section we wrote to never responded to our letter and even our complaint to the MP resulted in meagre answer ‘erm, we’re busy’ response which MP forwarded. Completely useless, nobody but MP to take your complaint seriously and then UKBA still don’t act on it. This is called “the rule of law”… And we look down on developing countries with corrupt or malfunctioning administration. It is no different in the North!

    1. I’m afraid I’m going to defend UKBA staff here.

      If there is a staff shortage, which there usually is, is it reasonable to blame the poor civil servant who is doing his/ her best?

      Perhaps you should be more critical of the government minister responsible rather then blaming poorly paid civil servants.

      I appreciate you may not be blaming civil servants but that is often the message portrayed by the tone and language of several posts on this site.

  2. In March 2006 I rang to ask the Nationality Directorate helpline when the NAIA 2002 section 9 was being implemented.

    All I got was a quote of the BNA 1981 existing rules, followed by “what are you referring to?”
    (Doh – the NAIA 2002 section 9)

    I eventually got a call back from some-one who knew what they were talking about. Answer was Quarter 2 or 3 later that year, and it will not be retrospective. Not sure why the ND sat on it for 3.5 years to implement 1 para ammendment to BNA1981, and then not make it retrospective. Fees I guess.

  3. Do they actually do ‘help’? The UKBA remind me of the Inland Revenue. The revenue will assist (if you’re lucky) with filling a tax return,but will stop short af advising all ways to minimise your liability,obviously.Plus will nail you if you incriminate yourself.Sort of an untrustworthy chameleon really.Not particularly friendly nor designed to be.Suppose that’s why we have accountants for tax and lawyers for immigration.
    I wonder if they tried phoning the line for reporting an immigration offence and how quickly that one is answered?