Tonight, BBC Panorama is set to broadcast ‘Immigration Undercover: The Student Visa Scandal’, a programme which will highlight that UK student visas have been acquired through a network of unscrupulous immigration agents who sell forged bank documents and provide ‘stand-ins’ to sit English language exams. Undercover footage will reveal how government approved English exams are being routinely subverted with fake sitters taking spoken English exams for students; footage which has been described by Home Secretary Theresa May as “incredible”, “very shocking” and “a matter of grave concern.”
Undercover Footage Reveals Fraud in UK Student Visa System
Statistics show that more than 200,000 UK student visas are issued abroad each year while a further 100,000 or so people in the UK get their student visas extended by the Home Office. BBC Panorama’s investigation found that for a fee, criminal immigration agents can help people get around the compulsory English language tests, even if they speak little or no English.
Undercover footage taken inside government approved exam centres in East London, show candidates being replaced by ringers’ minutes before the test starts. It seems that the “fake sitters” answered written and oral papers, while the real candidates were called to be photographed as “proof” of taking the test. Shockingly, in the second half of the test, an invigilator was filmed reading out the answers to all 200 questions – meaning candidates completed the two hour test in just seven minutes.
Home Office Suspends English Language Tests Run by ETS
Following the revelations, the Home Office has suspended ETS from administering English language tests for immigration purposes. Last night, speaking on the BBC’s undercover footage, Theresa May stated:
“We have taken action and suspended the two colleges identified in the programme. Applications made by students in the UK using the English Testing Service or associated with the colleges or immigration advisors mentioned in the programme have been put on hold pending the outcome of those investigations. All further English language tests done through ETS in the UK have been suspended.”
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