Student 'Scams' provide yet another back door into Britain


December 29, 2004

Further evidence that current procedures are failing to prevent major scams within the immigration system is revealed in a new report out today from think-tank Migrationwatch.

Research by the group into Home Office statistics reveals serious doubts about the number of students being allowed to extend their stay in Britain, raising concerns that it is yet another back door into Britain.

In the case of students from just one country - Jamaica - in the period 2001/03 - 1690 students were admitted but 27,525 more had their stays extended, even though official records show there are only 780 Jamaican students in the country!

Once again it underlines the chaos that exists in the system and makes a mockery of the claim by the Prime Minster recently that immigration is under control, said Sir Andrew Green, Chairman of Migrationwatch. How can they possibly have granted so many extensions over a three year period without anyone realising that there must be some major scams in operation?

The groups analysis is drawn from Home Office immigration statistics published recently (CM 633) which show an increase in student extensions of 48% over the previous year to reach 190,215.

A comparison between the number of students admitted to Britain from each country over the past three years and the number granted extension in that period shows some surprising results. For Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Australia, Mexico, Russia, Czech Republic and Cyprus extensions were less than 25% of student admissions over the same period. For the USA, by far the largest source of students at 195,000, only 2% sought extensions. (Read Report).

By contrast, extensions were close to 100% of admissions for countries such as Lithuania, Ukraine, Trinidad, Ghana, Mauritius, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Sri Lanka.

This high percentage may be partially accounted for by the fact that students may re-apply for extensions provided that they have evidence of financial support and a letter offering them a place. Those who arrive as visitors from countries for which visas are required are not permitted to switch to student status. If they do not require visas they may do so.

None of this, however, explains the two most remarkable results, said Sir Andrew.

In the period 2001 2003 4,270 students were admitted from Zimbabwe but, in the same period no less than 25,420 extensions were approved. For Jamaica the figures are even more startling. 1,690 were admitted and 27,525 were extended. By contrast, according to a recent Parliamentary Answer [HL 4832] the number of Zimbabwean and Jamaican students in UK Higher Educational Institutions in 2002/3 was only 2,850 and 780 respectively.

Visas were introduced for Zimbabweans in Nov 2002 and for Jamaicans in Jan 2003 but the number of extensions granted to students continued to rise.

"It is no wonder that public trust in the Governments immigration policies is at an all time low," he said.

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