John Vine Crticises UKBA for Dismissing Illegal Student Warnings

IMMIGRATION officers failed to check tip-offs about potentially illegal overseas students, leaving tens of thousands free to avoid deportation.

The UK Border Agency has been criticised for not paying enough attention to over 150 000 reports from colleges and other educational institutions, informing the UKBA that certain non-EU students had failed to enroll, stopped attending their course or have been found to be in breach of their visas, which means they might be staying illegally in the country, abusing the educational system.

This information has been discovered by the chief inspector of immigration John Vile

Vine found that the UKBA had “no targets in place” for dealing with these warnings.

“As a result, notifications of changes to circumstances of students, details of students failing to enrol or attend classes, or curtailment of sponsorship were not being acted upon,” he stated. “Over 150,000 notifications had accumulated and were awaiting action, meaning that potentially thousands of students had retained leave to remain when they should not have done so.”

In a report published yesterday he said although the backlog was now cleared, failing to quickly process vital information meant thousands could have been wrongly allowed to remain in the UK.

By May this year, after a concerted push from the UKBA, the backlog has been sorted out, however Vine criticised the UKBA for dealing with it as specific operation when it should be an “outgoing priority.”

Ministers claimed  that the regulations related to student visas are now tightened up and new measures have been applied in order to the warnings by Vine`s team, who said that ” many people were entering the country on less stringent visas intended for shorter periods of study.

According to shadow immigration minister Chris Bryant, the failings at the UKBA were a demonstration that”with Theresa May running the Home Office, we are getting the worst of both worlds”.

On the other hand, immigration minister Mark Harper said that the improvements made by the UKBA have been recognised by Vine`s team, as they really toughened the rules” recently.

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