Asylum backlog hits record high of 160k in huge blow to Rishi’s plans to cut it by Christmas

A group of people thought to be migrants walk through the immigration processing centre in Dover, Kent, after being brought from a Border Force vessel, following a small boat incident in the Channel. Picture date: Thursday February 9, 2023. PA Photo. See PA story POLITICS Migrants. Photo credit should read: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

BRITAIN’S asylum backlog has hit a new record of 160,000 – leaving Rishi Sunak’s vow to clear it by Christmas in tatters.

Ministers are facing a major backlash over an “amnesty” for thousands of small boat arrivals in a bid to push down the numbers.

The number of asylum seekers waiting for a decision has skyrocketed to new record highs

The Home Office faced a hammer blow as another 74,000 joined the queue for sanctuary after a whopping 45,000 people made the dangerous Channel crossing.

It came as new stats revealed the number of people coming here to study reached a staggering 485,000 – up 80 per cent from 2019.

The most common were Indian nationals – up 300 per cent – followed by Chinese nationals.

And the number of dependents coming with their families to study has increased eight-fold in just two years, the Home Office stats show.

The numbers of dependents spiralled from 16,000 to 135,000 – something Home Secretary Suella Braverman is eyeing a crackdown on to slash the numbers.

Just 3,500 people, mostly foreign criminals, were sent home last year – but this was just half the pre-pandemic numbers.

Meanwhile, the PM has vowed to clear a backlog of 92,000 asylum cases of everyone who came to Britain before last June, by the end of the year.

He has ordered case workers to be doubled, and decisions to be increased to four a week in a bid to push them down.

Arrivals from nations with high approval rates such as Afghanistan and Syria will see applications sped up.

But MPs hit back at plans for 12,000 to skip interviews in a bid to make decisions quicker in a new two-tier plan.

Suella Braverman is eyeing up a fresh crackdown on the number of dependents coming to the UK alongside international students

Tory MP Marco Longhi dubbed the plans “completely wrong” and Migration Watch dubbed it “an amnesty in all but name”.

Labour’s Lucy Powell said ministers must “speed up the process, make the decisions quickly, and remove people who don’t have the right to be here”.

It comes as another 192 people in six boats crossed the Channel and came to Britain on Thursday.