The Directorate of Immigration is understaffed, underpaid and overworked, says the director, and needs more funding from parliament to do its job effectively.
Kristín Völundardóttir told RÚV that applications from asylum seekers have increased a great deal over the past few years. The number of people they currently have on staff to handle immigration and refugee matters are simply not enough to handle the workload, and five lawyers quit last year due to the pressure.
Currently, 18 people work at the directorate – ten fewer than in 2008. At the same time, the amount of money parliament has given to the directorate to handle asylum seekers is far below the amount needed. While parliament budgeted 30 million ISK to the directorate in 2010, the actual cost of handling asylum seeker applications was 69 million ISK.
By budgeting more money to the directorate, Kristín says, the government would actually save money. Currently, it takes about a year for the directorate to process an application from an asylum seeker. At the same time, a family of four seeking asylum in Iceland costs the government about 900,000 ISK each month. An additional two or three lawyers, she believes, would be able to shorten the application process to six months, and in turn result in savings for the government.