Panorama, the BBC current affairs programmes, has recently exposed serious and continuing fraud in the UK student visa system. The exposure comes following a recent undercover investigation by the BBC, after sending undercover researchers (non-EU students holding a valid UK visa) in a bid to find a ways to pass the English language exam.
Studentway Education, an immigration consultancy based in west London was told the BBC undercover reported that they could get around compulsory English tests, even if applicants spoke no English. During secret filming, a “fake sitter” fluet in English was observed taking the test on behalf of the applicant. Studentway Education charged the applicant £500 for their “services.”
In light of the investigation, the Home Office has suspended English language tests set by the ETS until further notice.
Further fraud was also uncovered by the undercover researchers – not only were ciminal immigration agents able to provide English tests, they were also able to obtain a host of other fake documents such as bank statements demonstrating that applicants would be able to maintain themselves without recourse to public funds.
Each year, around 100,000 non-EU students obtain an extension to their UK student visa and a fruther 200,000 obtain their first UK student visa from abroad. These latest revelations are likely to have a negative impact on the UK student visa route and ensure a tightening of the existing requirements.