Immigration staff are failing to take action against hundreds of migrant workers with expired visas and no right to stay in Britain, a critical report has found.
John Vine, an independent Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency (UKBA), said the visas of migrants whose permits had ended were not being cancelled.
He also found insufficient checks were being carried out on companies which sponsor overseas workers.
Immigration minister Damian Green said the system was being improved.
The report comes as the government announced non-European Union workers earning more than £150,000 a year and some scientists were to be excluded from the government’s immigration cap.
Mr Green said the UK had to attract the brightest and the best to promote recovery.
Mr Vine’s report examined the government’s points-based system for skilled workers who want to come to the UK.
It found there were 150 cases where the visas of migrants who had finished jobs and were required to leave the UK were not cancelled.
And there were likely to be many more because of a backlog of 3,000 potential cases as yet unprocessed, it added.
Mr Vine said he was concerned the agency was not visiting the firms who hire or sponsor migrant staff.
He told the BBC:
“The Border Agency needs to do the appropriate checks on the sponsor, and satisfy itself of course that they are a bona fide employer and that their employment exists.
“And that’s why I was concerned about the visit to the premises not having been carried out in all cases.”
Profits before securing UK’s borders
His report also found inconsistent approaches to decision-making, with some applicants refused because of minor omissions, and others given extra time to supply the missing information.
The agency had put profits before securing the UK’s borders with an emphasis “always on income-generating work first”, Mr Vine added.
And he called for the agency to act promptly to return those living in the UK illegally.
“If people no longer qualify to stay in the UK according to their visa conditions, then they must be required to leave the country,” he said.
“Many staff perceived that quality of decision-making and controlling immigration were not as much of a priority for the UK Border Agency as generating income and providing customer service.”
Shadow immigration minister Gerry Sutcliffe said ministers were cutting 5,200 jobs at the agency at the “very time we need to improve enforcement and tackle illegal immigration.
“As the independent chief inspector’s report today makes clear, UKBA faces a resources challenge and the government is intent on making it worse,” he said.
Immigration Minister Mr Green agreed changes needed to be made to ensure the system was effective. He said:
“We do regulate sponsors properly, but obviously I’m very interested in what the chief inspector has to say and, if we do need to improve the UKBA systems, we will do so.”
He said communication among agency staff and the IT systems had been improved to ensure the system was moving “in the right direction”. Source: BBC.
Immigration Matters Comment
This report confirms what most immigration advisers already know: Employers are making serious errors when issue certificates of employment (CoS) to migrant workers.
Cynthia Barker of Immigration Advisers’ Bison UK wrote last August:
‘UK employers are risking fines and the loss of their Tier 2 sponsorship by issuing a COS or ‘Certificates of Sponsorship’ (formerly known as work permits) to unqualified migrant workers.
‘During consultations with candidates and employers, we have noticed a lot of misunderstanding of the rules, which means that employment certificates are being given to Filipino workers without the proper checks being made on their experience and or qualifications.’
Immigration Adviser Evelie Padadac said:
‘Employers issue the certificates directly to the candidates who then consult us for further leave to remain. However, when looking through the paperwork, I frequently find that the candidate does not qualify under the Tier 2 rules.’
Under the old work permit scheme, replaced in 2008 by Tier 2 of the points based system, employers had to apply for each individual permit which was closely scrutinized by Home Office case workers.
But when Tier 2 was introduced the Government handed employers a years supply of CoS certificates – effectively a Work Permit – to issue as and when required.
No further checks on the validity of the application or whether the applicant was qualified or not, it appears, were carried by UKBA staff unless glaring errors were spotted by the Leave to Remain team when processing the applicant’s visa.
The Tier 2 working visa system is a disaster waiting to happen.
This week the Home Office has unveiled details of a proposed major overhaul to the Tier 2 working visa route scrapping many of the procedures brought in by the previous Government.
Under the new system, employers will have to apply for a certificate of sponsorship from the UK Border Agency for a specific post (as they used to under the previous Work Permit scheme) if they wish to bring someone to the UK – an about-turn on the current Tier 2 system under which businesses were given an annual allocation.
Employers and their prospective workers are urged to take advice from a qualified immigration adviser before issuing employment certificate and applying for further leave. Even if the worker obtains the Tier 2 working visa, it could later be revoked if errors come to light or indefinite leave (ILR).
We also recommend an annual health check or file audit to ensure that work permit holders and workers on student visas are still legal and avoid fines of up to £10,000.
Evelie Padadac is an OISC registered immigration adviser with Bison Management UK specializing in work and study related visas as well as a file checking audit service for employers.
If you need any immigration advice or help with Sponsorship or Work Permits, Visa, ILR/Settlement, Citizenship, dependant visa or an appeal against a refusal please email: