Ombudsman criticises Immigration Service

Immigration Service needs to give clearer information on applications, ombudsman says

For the third time in recent months, the Immigration Service has been formally criticised by parliamentÂ’s ombudsman.

On Wednesday, the ombudsman released an official response to a complaint that the Immigration Service (Udlændingeservice) took too long to act on a resident permit renewal application, and that the former Immigration Ministry in turn took too long to respond to the complaint regarding the Immigration Service’s original handling of the case.

After investigating the complaint, the ombudsman, Jørgen Steen Sørensen, determined that the Immigration Service was not providing documentation confirming to applicants that their  paperwork had been received and was being processed. He furthermore found that the Immigration Service did not give applicants clear information on how long it would take to process their applications. The Immigration Service instead directed applicants to generic information on the website, which the ombudsman declared was not sufficient.

Sørensen said that applicants should receive direct confirmation letters and notifications regarding the handling of their individual cases.

The process of handling renewal applications was revealed in December by Berlingske newspaper to take significantly longer than the stated five-month maximum. Over 1,000 applicants were forced to wait as long as 14 months for a decision on their case.

The Justice Ministry, which now handles immigration affairs following the current government’s  abolishment of the Immigration Ministry shortly after taking power, responded by saying that it agreed with the ombudsmanÂ’s recommendations and would order the Immigration Service to ensure that applicants were given receipts and notifications regarding their resident permit renewal applications.

This was the third time since October that the Immigration Ministry has come under criticism from the parliamentary ombudsman.

In mid-October, then-ombudsman Hans Gammeltoft-Hansen criticised the Immigration Service for failing to fulfill its legal obligations to unaccompanied child refugees.

And weeks later, Gammeltoft-Hansen ruled that the Immigration Ministry under the previous Venstre-Konservative government had contravened the freedom of information act by delaying for more than two months the disclosure of facts requested by Jyllands-Posten newspaper, which related to the stateless citizenship scandal that ultimately cost Birthe Rønn Hornbech (Venstre) her job as the immigration minister.