The proportion of refugees granted asylum in the UK has reached a 32-year high, as figures show the number of Albanians crossing the Channel in small boats has increased substantially over the last few months.
Despite threats to send those reaching the UK by irregular means to Rwanda, the Home Office disclosed that more than three-quarters (76%) of asylum seekers had their claims for asylum, leave or humanitarian protection approved in the year ending June 2022.
This was the highest grant rate since 1990, while the government’s backlog in processing asylum claims has reached 118,000 people.
Figures also show that 2,165 Albanians were recorded as arriving in the UK by small boats between January and June 2022, compared with just 23 detected in the same period the previous year.
It comes after the Home Office said Albanian police could be brought to the UK to observe migrant arrivals and pass on intelligence in an effort to tackle Channel crossings.
“The number of Albanians arriving on small boats has increased substantially over the last quarter. Prior to this point, Albanians were not commonly detected on small boats,” the findings said.
In the first half of this year, more than half (51%) of small boat arrivals were from three nationalities – Albanian (18%), Afghan (18%) and Iranian (15%).
A deal struck between the home secretary, Priti Patel, and the Albanian government may take officers to the Kent coast to be present while migrants are processed and assist UK authorities with information, officials said. It is yet to be confirmed when this could happen.
According to the Home Office, Albania is a “safe and prosperous country” and many nationals “are travelling through multiple countries to make the journey to the UK” before making “spurious asylum claims when they arrive”.
But Enver Solomon, the chief executive of the Refugee Council, said it would be wrong to prejudge cases and that a majority of asylum applications from Albanian nationals were granted in the UK.
“We know directly from extensive work with Albanian refugees that many have been trafficked and are victims of criminal and sexual exploitation. Just because a country is not at war does not mean that it is safe for all that live there.
“To prejudge an asylum claim based on biases about the country of origin of the applicant is totally wrong, and undermining of our asylum determination process that seeks to ensure the opposite – that claims are assessed on their individual merit,” he said.
Fewer than 1,000 Albanian offenders have been deported from the UK since a removals agreement was signed last year.
The number of people using “safe and legal routes” to come to the UK greatly outnumbered asylum seekers, the statistics show.
In addition to the 105,000 Ukraine scheme visa recipients, a further 18,600 British national (overseas) status holders and their family members from Hong Kong have been granted visas to live and work in the UK.
Just 6,910 people who arrived by small boats have had an initial asylum decision since 2018. Of those, 8% were rejected. Nearly half, 49%, were accepted.
Commenting on the statistics, the minister for illegal migration, Simon Baynes, said: “The significant increase of people making dangerous small boats crossings continues to pressurise the UK’s asylum system and our ability to make timely casework decisions.
“Anyone who is travelling through safe countries to reach the UK should claim asylum there instead of giving money to evil criminal gangs.
“Our new plan for immigration, including our migration and economic development partnership with Rwanda, will fix the broken system, crack down on those who enter illegally and allow us to support those in genuine need.”