16 April 2009

UK visa system needs better screening process

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The UK visa system has been found to have a major loophole for terrorists to infiltrate Britain. According to the Telegraph, a UK visa is easy to obtain for terrorists posing as students in the UK immigration system.

This month, over a dozen UK visa holders were arrested for plotting a terrorist attack in the North West of England, and a loophole in the UK student visa category has been blamed for the suspects being allowed in the country.  Just days prior to the arrests of the suspects, Immigration Minister Phil Woolas was quoted as saying the UK studnet visa category was "the major loophole in Britain's border controls".

Recently, the UK Border Agency swapped the UK student visa category to the new points-based UK system for immigration (Tier 4), so that now international need to obtain sponsorship from a licensed educational institution before having their UK visa application approved.  They also need to submit biometric information and acquire a certain number of points towards their application.   

The Home Office are hoping that the new points-based system for the UK student visa category would "weed out" bogus students and protect Britain from people abusing the UK visa system.

However, even with the new points-based system, checks for UK visa applications are still making mistakes – according to Pakistan's High Commissioner to the UK – and it is Britain's strict process protocol that restricts Pakistan's valuable input to UK visa vetting.

"It is at your end you have to do something more. Every day we are raiding people, we are arresting people, we are arresting suspects wherever we find them."

If they allow us to make inquiries first, if they ask us to scrutinise those people who are seeking visas we can help them," he told BBC Two's Newsnight.

"But the thing is they have their own regime - the regime that vets these people. They go through a lot of questions and points systems and all these things, which must be ensuring them that they are giving visas to the right people. But unfortunately in every system certain mistakes are made."


The UK Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in UK visa and immigration services.


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