I am often asked by Immigration Matters readers – overseas students or job hunters – if a company offering them a course or work placement is legitimate.
The internet has given birth to millions scams including those offering people bogus jobs, usually requiring applicants to send money in advance for Work Permit applications or flights.
A number of NVQ colleges, such as Affinity and Precision Training UK, have gone out of business recently leaving students ‘high and dry’.
Regulated firms in certain sectors are relatively easy to check. For instance, educational providers offering courses to overseas non EU students must be on the UK Border Agency’s sponsors register.
If you are an international student applying for a course from abroad the first step is to make sure the college is on the official UK Border Agency Tier 4 Sponsors Register.
You can check yourself by going to the UK Border website at – http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/employersandsponsors/pointsbasedsystem/registerofsponsorseducation.
If the provider is not on the register, do not enrol, even if they are in the process of applying.
UK Immigration Advisers are listed on the OISC register, Solicitors are listed with the Law Society and so on.
Please take note. The fact that a company is listed or registered as a business or college is no guarantee that it is legitimate or solvent, or indeed that the person offering you the service is connected with that company.
It is important that you carry out your own ‘due diligence’ and satisfy yourself that a business is sound and that you are actually dealing with that business.
Here are some simple tips on checking out UK limited, or incorporated, companies.
An easy way of checking out any UK registered limited company is to carry out a free Companies House WebCheck on the official companies register at:
This simple check, which you can do from anywhere in the world, will reveal whether or not the company, or corporation, exists, when it was formed and if it is still in business or ‘Dissolved’.
It will also tell you when they filed their last accounts and if their return is overdue.
For instance, a quick check on Precision Training UK Limited reveals their status as: “Active – Proposal to Strike off”, which means they are about to be struck off and will cease to exist.
Considering the company is still offering courses on its website, this information should warn you to stay well clear of this outfit.
The WebCheck also shows that the company has “No Accounts Filed” and their Annual Return is “Overdue”. This is quite common for new businesses and whilst it does not mean the company is going under, it is not a good sign.
Companies House will not list the details of Sole Traders or partnerships.
You can also purchase a credit report from the many credit referencing agencies, like Experian and Equifax.
But the best way to check out a college is by old fashioned ‘word of mouth’ and references.
Ask around, pick up the phone, visit or send a friend, do your own investigations and you’ll be surprised what you can find out.
There is also a lot of free information available on the internet and services such as Google Earth even allow you to view an address or premises on line.
Embassies and trade associations also provide services to their citizens via their posts.
Finally, use your judgement and common sense – if something seems too good to be true it usually is.
Do you have any suggestions for checking out a business? If so write your comments below.
If you need any immigration advice or help with Sponsorship or Work Permits, Visa or an appeal against a refusal please email: