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UK Border Agency responds to alleged abuse of Tier 4 student visa system | Immigration Matters

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The British Government has published its response to allegations in the media that Tier 4 of the UK’s points-based system for immigration is being widely abused by foreign nationals posing as students.

Undercover reporters from the Daily Telegraph have exposed a host of scams, including an agency in the Philippines, offered to foreign nationals desperate to come to Britain as bogus students.

Government officials in the Philippines alerted British consular staff to the large number of poorly-educated citizens who were heading for Britain on study visas.

Theresa Dizon-de Vega, Consul-General at the Philippine Embassy in London, said:

“The Ambassador had a very productive discussion recently with minister Phil Woolas and officials of the UK Home Office.

“The Philippine Embassy and the UK Home Office agreed to co-ordinate closely and exchange information and views on various immigration-related concerns including the implementation of the new points-based system of migration.” 

The UK Border Agency said:

“All applications under the points-based system are closely scrutinised, and our frontline staff are trained in detecting forgery and fraud. Contrary to the newspaper’s claim that anyone achieving the 40 points required under Tier 4 will have their application approved, we can still refuse anyone who submits false documents, has an adverse immigration history or has insufficient funds when they apply.

“We will also refuse anyone who applies under Tier 4 but is not intending to undertake a genuine course with a genuine education provider. We can and do ban people from applying for visas for 10 years if they use false documents or deception in a visa application.”

The agency responsible for immigration and border controls added that where a licensed Tier 4 sponsoring college knowingly accept migrants who do not intend to study there, they would revoke its licence.

Additional controls have been applied to those students who apply to study at one college but then wants to switch to another college. Students need to apply for permission to do so – and the new college must also be on a licensed Tier 4 sponsor. Students with visas or permission issued after 5 October this year looking to switch educational providers must now apply for new leave to remain.  

All licensed colleges are now required to report on student attendance, and the UK Border Agency will take appropriate action if they fail to do so or if they have a high drop-out rate.

A number of colleges have lost their licence this year only months after being added to the Government’s ‘Tier 4 Sponsors Register’.

Border and Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said:

“While there will always be people who will try to abuse our immigration rules, we have robust systems in place to ensure that only those students who are genuinely coming to the UK to study can do so.

“The points-based system ensures that only those colleges and schools who provide quality education and take responsibility for their students are licensed to bring in foreign students.

“Schools and colleges are inspected by accreditation bodies and the UK Border Agency to ensure they are genuine. Before we tightened controls, around 4,000 UK institutions were bringing in international students – this currently stands at around 2,000.

“We continuously monitor our systems, and where improvements can be made we will make them.”

Immigration Matters Comment

Entry Clearance Officers still have powers to refuse applications, including cases where fraud is suspected. Immigration officers at the border can, and do, refuse entry to the UK to anyone who fails to demonstrate that they are a genuine student.

The Government has brought in a number of measures to control overseas students and their educational providers. Under the old ‘DIUS’ system few checks were made on colleges and accreditation was granted without an inspection visit.

Under the new Tier 4 system, all colleges applying for a sponsors licence were inspected by an accreditation body and by UK Border Agency inspectors before or soon after being licensed.

Colleges are now responsible and accountable for its students. They must monitor their student’s attendance and academic progress, as well as there whereabouts and, in the case of vocational or sandwich courses, their workplace.

Educational providers will also have to undergo annual and unannounced inspections and provide information on demand to the authorities, or risk losing its licence.

If someone wants to enter the country illegally they could simply apply for a visit or business visa or join the hoards of illegal immigrants boarding lorries every night at Calais. The student route is not that easy and involves far more financial commitment and work to obtain a visa.

What’s your view? Make your comment below.

Related articles: 

UK Border Agency response to media reports about UK education providers

MAC endorses Tier 1 immigration routes for highly skilled migrants

Student visa system to be reviewed

Studying in the UK – UK Border Agency Video

Student visa numbers rise

Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s speech on immigration

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26 Responses to “UK Border Agency responds to alleged abuse of Tier 4 student visa system”
Read them below or add one

  1. Amit Singh says :

    A person has entered in U.K. last month on student visa tier 4 who submitted fake job experience certificates, he intends to stay there long and apply for permanent resident person was indulged in duping people, did credit card frauds, provide fake educational documents to people in exchange of money and many more activities which are shameful.Kindly give me the contacts where a complaint can be launched for him I will also provide all the details like his name passport no the company HR contact from where he was terminated everything. Do revert me at earliest possible.

  2. dear sir,

    one of the college from London is not refunding the tution fees paid by us after the visa refusal ,can you please healp us to get the refund of the fees.

  3. shahid khalid abbasi says :

    hi sir/madam my name is shahid khalid abbasi from pakistan islamabaad. i was the new student of wilson college who is situated in london. i have paid 1000 pound my tution fee.
    now my application has refused but college does not refund my tution says our college was suspended in uk border agency list and now we have new management and we can not refund you fee. i am requesting uk border agency please help me in this regard.

  4. Yes, they want to attract only the best and the brightest. And that is completely understandable. So, Im not sure why my fiancee, who got accepted into St. Andrews with a 3.9 GPA was refused. ECOs need to be trained better.

  5. Hi,do you pay another visa fees is you were refused to remain as a tier 4 student but given the right to appeal and the judgement was on your favour.

  6. How do i report a student who is abusing her tier 4 visa by working a 35 hour week in the sex industry.

  7. hussain says :

    hi i m a student under tier4 vissa issued at 29sep2009 which is valid for 4years.can i change my college and course because i m not happy about my college.plz let me know what should i do?

  8. hussain says :

    I came to study in uk at 13oct2009.can i change my college??????????

  9. dear sir,

    in my view it is cimpletly unfair for the exsisting student who are genuiently studing. as i am student i have passed my exam with good extention is next month but becos of college abusing there system given by ukba(sespend)…there for we suffering becos of that. question in my mind is :
    1)why ukba didnt maintain continues inqueries about licsens given to college?
    2) why we have to undergo the same new roles as we are old student? we didnt abuse the system.
    thank you.

  10. hi
    I m student under tier 4 . my visa was issued before october 2009. I got visa for 15 months and i ve join my college where i enrolled . after 1sr semester ie, after 6 months of being in uk now i want to change my college and subject . what should i do? do i need to apply to uk home office . if my new course is longer than 6 months i need to extend visa as well. can anyone help me

  11. hi this is rabin.i am a student under tier visa going to b expired i need to know what shoud i do to renew my visa?i wiil be pleaed if get details about so could you please send me all information.i need to know how much does it charge to apply?about the bank statement and the time period to apply.thanx alot

  12. saleem says :

    Hi sir i am a student and studying in a visa issued after 5 i am going to change my college.i think i will apply again to UKBA but if they refused my application then what i will go?
    i am very happy to came to london and i am very impressed from bratish people and their behavior.
    thank a lot

  13. You will need to take this up with the college. Some student visa applicants have also received a 10 year ban because the college visa letter was found to be fraudulent.

  14. Depending on when you obtained your visa, you can change your college. You may need permission from the UK Border Agency or, if your visa/leave was issued after 5 October 2009, you may have to apply for new leave/permission.

  15. […] UK Border Agency responds to alleged abuse of Tier 4 student visa system […]

  16. benedict abuan says :

    i came to u.k as a student taking NVQ 3 in Birmingham im paying 150 pound a month but before coming in i already paid 3200 dollars back in the phillipines for my tuition fee can i still transfer school because i learned that what im paying is too mush

  17. Cath Erive says :

    It is really unfair for people who are genuine in making their applications only to find out that they are being fooled by the colleges where they applied! unlucky me! I just hope that the visa will be granted to people who really deserves it..

  18. […] UK Border Agency responds to alleged abuse of Tier 4 student visa system […]

  19. tariq azhar says :


  20. Good day!

    Can i report someone who is abusing her visa under tier 4? because i know someone that is on student visa but, shes working in exceeding hours plus she doesnt have the background as a carer. Thank you.

  21. my problem with my application as a student,i was been granted from my first appeal,when i about to release my visa,the embassy finds out that there is a problem with the school logo,my school name ******* INTERNATIONAL ,now, how can i get back my money from this school that i send and paid already for my fees,and what to do,i didnt know that this will happen because some of my friends was there already with the same school.. i was looking someone will help me..

  22. Thanks to the UKBA’s policing and polishing of their educational institutions so that foreign nationals who are also serious of getting the knowledge and skills will greatly benefit from such trainings. Another suggestion is that the UKBA should also monitor some illegal and abusive immigration advisers for the UK including British nationals. The rationale goes to the vigilance of UKBA to implement its current rules and should not blame immigrants on whatever loopholes that ensued. This is asserted o the fact that most foreign nationals adheres to the rules of immigration in “good faith”.
    In fact, we are attracted to study in UK in a hope that such degree earned will qualify us to work in UK or any other European countries after the course. This qualification and opportunity to work after the course, we believe, is better compensated compared to similar or even better work and more prestigious work, here in our country. If such hope is absent then there would be no one, and no foreigner from economically backward countries ever want to leave their home. We hope then that as we go to UK, we can contribute to the welfare of UK society and that UK society will also reward our sincere complements.

  23. Irina Astley says :

    “We have robust systems in place to ensure that only those students who are genuinely coming to the UK to study can do so” – The UK Border Agency says.

    However we have an influx of Pakistani and Indian “students “, who obtained their visas by deception and arrive to the UK in hundreds , an Illington case alone as an example.

    All these people have obtained their student visas by deception; they have no means to stay let alone to study in the UK, which makes them illegal immigrants.
    As illegal immigrants they should be deported back , however it doesn’t seem to be the case.

    “They have their dreams to live in the UK ” – we hear on the news, yes then let them break the law and fulfil their dreams ! And how many more will follow their example? Where is the “robust system “the UK Border Agency is so proud of?

    Isn’t it the time for the UK authorities to put the UK people first? How many more illegal immigrants can a small country like the UK accept and support ?

  24. mayumi dantis says :

    Hi what gonna happen to those students who coming here as student then they found out. That colleges is not aware if they enroll.

  25. […] UK Border Agency responds to alleged abuse of Tier 4 student visa system […]

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