“Extraordinary circumstances” responsible for long lines at Immigration Service

Parliamentary ombudsman decides that no action is needed in the wake of last summer’s brutal delays

Service delays of up to ten hours last summer at Immigration Service (Udlændingestyrelsen) were caused by what the service called “extraordinary circumstances”.

After published reports last August revealed delays at Udlændingestyrelsen were running as long as ten hours, the parliamentary ombudsman wrote the service asking for an explanation and an outline of the steps that were being taken to shorten waiting times.

The agency explained that legislative changes put into practise in the spring and summer of 2012 resulted in an extraordinary number of people needing help at the service centre.

Udlændingestyrelsen told the government ombudsman that it had started having extra staff on hand during times of peak demand and that it is considering other methods of improving service to customers. One initiative being considered is to make the numbering system available online. Users would still have to show up at the centre to take a number, but they would be able to leave the centre and follow their position in the line via the internet. The service is also examining the possibility of making appointments.

The ombudsman said that he would not be investigating last summer’s marathon waits any further.

“Ten hours is obviously a very long wait,” said ombudsman Jørgen Steen Sørensen. “But the key for me is that Udlændingestyrelsen is doing what it needs to do to improve the situation.”

Sørensen said that he will continue to monitor the situation and that the recent maximum waiting times at Udlændingestyrelsen averaged 1 hour and 48 minutes.