Thousands of students at risk because of UK Border Agency’s laziness


Thousands of international students are at a risk of being declared illegal in Britain because UK Border Agency (UKBA) staff has failed to update its records, a report by the UK chief inspector of Immigration has revealed.
According to the details, when a student from outside the European Union changes their sponsor, does not enroll in a semester or breaches the visa rules, a report is sent to the UKBA.
Immigration Chief Inspector John Vine said that a backlog of 153,000 such reports had built up at one point. Vine, whose team examined the performance of three UKBA offices in Sheffield, Delhi and Beijing, said the agency had “no targets for dealing with the reports and notifications it had received using the sponsor management system”.
“As a result, notifications of changes to circumstances of students, details of students failing to enroll or attend classes, or curtailment of sponsorship were not being acted upon,” he said.
Similarly, the data of the students who had changed their institutes and had informed the UKBA had not been updated either which could lead to them being held for breaching immigration rules.
Immigration experts told Pakistan Today that there were increasing numbers of Pakistani and South Asian whose application for extension in their students visa were refused by the UKBA because their data had not been updated. Inspectors also warned that increasing numbers were entering Britain on visas designated for short periods of study which were not subject to the same checks as those for longer courses.
Labour Party Shadow immigration minister Chris Bryant said 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”.
“Student visitor visas have fewer checks than full student visas and are therefore ripe for exploitation by those looking to avoid tougher checks,” he added.
But Immigration Minister Mark Harper said the government had “toughened the rules to ensure that genuine students are not taken advantage of by organisations looking to sell immigration not education”.
“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,” he added.
He said he was pleased the report “recognises the operational improvements that have been made at the agency”.
Earlier this month, Vine accused the border agency in a report of misleading MPs about the amount of background checks made on historic asylum cases.
He said the UKBA had supplied inaccurate information to MPs about a backlog of cases and said that Parliament had received incorrect assurances about progress.
At the time, a Home Office spokesman said it was turning around the “troubled” agency.
On Tuesday, senior UKBA official Jonathan Sedgwick apologised to the Home Affairs Committee for misleading MPs but insisted the mistakes had been “inadvertent”.


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