Tens of thousands of migrants who should have left the UK as long as a decade ago could still be here because the Home Office has no idea where they are, a leaked memo has disclosed.
Immigration staff are frantically working through more than 40,000 historic files of migrants and visitors who were told before 2003 that they no longer had a right to stay in the country.
Some go as far back as the mid-1990s and means, if their circumstances have not changed, they are now illegal immigrants if still here.
They are made up of individuals who were here on work permits, temporary leave to remain, student visas and visitor visas who were all turned down for extensions to their stay.
But no record has been made as to whether they ever left the country and could all still be here.
It echoes the fiasco of the asylum “legacy” backlog involving up to 450,000 files, some dating back more than a decade and a half, that had not been concluded.
The same casework team tasked with clearing the asylum backlog is now having to work through the additional 40,000 non-asylum cases as well.