29 November 2012

New UK immigration report reveals further UKBA failings

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The latest report from chief inspector to the UK Border Agency, John Vine, has revealed yet more failings in the agency's handling of UK immigration cases, this time regarding international students.

UK visa

The UK Border Agency has been hit with a second damning report in just a week.

Coming just one week after the chief inspector's last UK immigration report, which slammed the UK Border Agency (UKBA) for misleading MPs over the existence of an extensive backlog of applications, Mr Vine has published a second report, revealing further failings in the much-maligned agency's operation.

Mr Vine said at the time of his report in May, there were over 150,000 notifications of change of status in international students' circumstances that had not been pursued. The report noted that many of these notifications regarded the discontinuation of a UK visa, leading to the assumption that thousands of international students could have been allowed to remain in the country illegally.

"As a result, there could potentially be thousands of migrants in the UK who were not complying with the conditions of their visa and whose leave should have been curtailed by the agency but had not been," wrote the chief inspector.

"One senior manager informed us that at the time of the inspection there were potentially 26,000 students whose leave should have been curtailed and who should have had enforcement taken against them."

Mr Vine acknowledged that many of the notifications concerned almost trivial details such as a change of address and also that the agency had conducted an operation in May to reduce the backlog. However, he said efforts to reduce the backlog should be an ongoing process and not a one off operation.

Immigration Minister Mark Harper responded to the report by touting the Government's efforts to tackle visa abuse within the student visa system.

"We have toughened the rules to ensure that genuine students are not taken advantage of by organisations looking to sell immigration not education," said the minister.

"At the same time, we have a great offer for the brightest and best international talent who want to study at our world class institutions."

Shadow Immigration Minister Chris Bryant however, said the report was further evidence of poor management by the Home Secretary Theresa May.

"The massive 153,000 backlog of people who have potentially gone rogue emphasises that, with Theresa May running the Home Office, we are getting the worst of both worlds."

The UK Visa Bureau is an independent immigration consultancy specialising in helping people prepare for their UK Ancestry Visa application.

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