Despite a plea for a budget increase due to an ever-increasing number of asylum applications, Parliament only allocated about half the funds the Immigration Appeals Board (KNU) had asked for. As such, they have been compelled to reduce their numbers from 19 to only six board members.
According to a statement from KNU, RÚV reports, there were 1,130 applications for asylum last year; about three times the number that there were the year previous. In response, in 2016 Parliament voted to increase the number of board members and increase their budget.
Despite this, the annual budget for 2017 has only allocated about half of the funds KNU asked for in order to keep processing times below 90 days, as they had been asked to do. In fact, the average wait time for a decision from KNU during the last three months of last year was 78 days; down from over 300 days when KNU was formed about two years ago.
KNU believes they need an additional 140 million ISK in order to maintain this wait time, which they argue is considerably less than the cost of housing asylum seekers over the long term as they await a decision. They point out that the government’s own policy regarding asylum seekers aimed for more humane, which included shorter waiting periods.
However, this goal cannot be maintained with their funding reduced, and as such, KNU will have to reduce their numbers, which may bring with it longer waiting periods for those seeking asylum in Iceland.