UKBA staff failed to check thousands of tip-offs about overseas students

 

UK Border Agency staff failed to check thousands of tip-offs about overseas students including whether they had actually enrolled on courses, a report said today.

Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration John Vine found that the UKBA had allowed a backlog of 153,000 notifications from sponsors of non-EU students to build up, including whether students had enrolled on courses or were turning up for classes.

This could potentially have meant that thousands were wrongly allowed to remain in the country, he said.

The tip-offs were all reviewed by May this year, but Mr Vine said it must be an "ongoing priority" to make sure checks are carried out.

His team examined work at three UKBA offices in Sheffield, Beijing and Delhi.

The report found: "The agency had no targets in place for responding to notifications made using the Sponsor Management System.

"As a result, notifications of changes to circumstances of students, details of students failing to enrol or attend classes, or curtailment of sponsorship were not being acted upon.

"Over 150,000 notifications had accumulated and were awaiting action, meaning that potentially thousands of students had retained leave to remain when they should not have done so. This was a significant failure."

However, Mr Vine said his findings were "generally positive" and that he was "pleased" that the agency had reviewed the notifications.

He said: "I was pleased to note that in May 2012 the agency had reviewed outstanding sponsor notifications and launched an operation to identify and remove people, including students, who had overstayed beyond the term of their visa. This should be an ongoing priority rather than the subject of a one-off operation by the agency."

Shadow immigration minister Chris Bryant described the report as "damning".

He said: "The report reveals the scandalous situation where legitimate students are being turned away from attending our universities, while students reported to UKBA by our institutions for potentially going missing are not being followed up.

"The massive 153,000 backlog of people who have potentially gone rogue emphasises that, with Theresa May running the Home Office, we are getting the worst of both worlds."

Immigration Minister Mark Harper insisted that the Government has made student visa rules tighter.

He said: "We are the first Government to tackle the historically high levels of abuse in the student visa system.

"We have toughened the rules to ensure that genuine students are not taken advantage of by organisations looking to sell immigration not education.

"I am glad this report recognises the operational improvements that have been made at the Agency, and particularly that both Beijing and New Delhi consistently met performance targets."

The report is the latest to highlight failures at UKBA. Last week Mr Vine claimed that the agency had supplied misleading figures to MPs over the number of immigration cases that had been archived.

He found that 33,000 cases had not been included in figures given to the Commons Home Affairs Committee.

The report also revealed that at one point 100,000 pieces of post were left unopened as staff struggled to deal with an immigration backlog.

It also said that 2,000 people whose cases were placed in the archive because they could not be traced were actually reporting regularly.

On Tuesday UKBA's director of international operations and visas, Jonathan Sedgwick, and former UKBA chief executive Lin Homer both apologised to the committee for inadvertently supplying the wrong information.

Committee chairman Keith Vaz warned them that it would be treated as contempt if it happened again, and told Ms Homer: "We are very concerned and shocked at what Mr Vine has said and I'm glad you've come here and apologised and accepted your share of the responsibility."

A UK Border Agency spokesman said: "If we find that a student has broken the terms of their visa then we will take action to remove them.

"However not all of these notifications were to report potential abuse - sponsors notify us about a wide range of issues."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - Nationwide - OTE £65,000

£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser