The UK Border Agency reports that 19 London-bound visa applicants have been arrested in Bangladesh following a joint operation involving us and Bangladeshi police.
The group were arrested on suspicion of fraud at the UK Border Agency in Dhaka.
The applicants were suspected of providing forged documentation and false bank statements with their business visitor visa applications to attend the Boishaki Mela in East London as stall holders.
The Bangladeshi police worked in close cooperation with our officers in Dhaka, discovering that the applicants had misrepresented their employment status and produced forged bank statements.
The group admitted that they had paid agents up to £10,000 each to facilitate their visa applications and provide forged documents.
Philippa Rouse, director of visa services, UK Border Agency said:
‘The UK Border Agency is working hard with our international law enforcement partners to target the organised criminal gangs who attempt to abuse our immigration system.
‘As this case shows, that work often starts thousands of miles away.
‘We want to welcome genuine visitors to the Britain, whether it be for business or tourism. But we will not tolerate fraud, and those caught trying to con the system face long bans from the UK.’
We have a a integrated fraud assessment unit in Bangladesh, which successfully uncovers and investigates high volumes of fraud and forgery in UK visa applications.
In cases such as this, our unit works closely with the police, other Embassies and High Commissions to ensure the integrity of documentation, and to identify and take action against fraud.
Nick Low, British Deputy High Commissioner in Bangladesh said:
‘I strongly advise anyone wanting to obtain a visa to visit the UK not to listen to agents who offer to sell forged documents and say they can guarantee a visa.
‘They are criminals who have absolutely no influence over the decision or how quickly it is made.’
In cases of fraud, we will refuse the UK visa application and ban the applicant from travelling to the UK for up to 10 years.
We may also refer the applicant and any agent involved to the police for further investigation and possible charges.
Anyone who has information about immigration crime should contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 where anonymity can be assured. Source: UK Border Agency.
The lure of a UK visa and a job overseas can prove too much to resist for desperate migrant workers.
However, submitting forged documents to obtain a UK visa by deception means risking a 10 year ban and in some cases criminal proceedings.
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