Chris Bryant, shadow immigration minister, said “At a time when the UK economy is struggling, it is vital that we are open for business and tourism”.

Yvette Cooper, shadow home secretary, is also backing our campaign.

It comes after TNT received horror stories about the UK Border Agency – readers had been given the wrong information by advisers; weddings and travel plans have been scrapped; and passports are being held in some cases for more than eight months.

The TNT petition (click here to sign) is demanding:

1. Every applicant receives correspondence when an application has been received

2. Advice is then sent to all applicants detailing the process system and what it means for those wanting to work or travel

3. Every applicant gets access to an emergency helpline which they can call for updates at any time, not only after six months

4. The target for processing visas for those based in the UK who are eligible to work is reduced to three months

5. A full refund is offered to applicants if their application takes longer than the target time if it is due to UKBA incompetency

6. The amount of premium service appointments is increased – and a full refund is offered to applicants if the UKBA doesn’t adhere to the allotted 24-hour timescale

7. Applicants wishing to extend visas to stay in the UK can do so before the ‘28 days before expiry’ deadline

Byrant told TNT: “At a time when the UK economy is struggling, it is vital that we are open for business and tourism.

“The UK Border Agency’s failure to deal with visa applications promptly is a major own goal and it is time the government realised they are undermining our chances of turning the economy around.

“Since the 2010 general election, the UKBA has had to cut thousands of staff, which has only lead to things getting worse and worse.

“This is why I support TNT Magazine’s campaign – we need a border agency that operates efficiently, is customer-friendly and provides value for money.”

To support the TNT campaign, click here.

Got a UKBA horror story? Email