According to a report by the National Audit Office (NAO), as many as 50,000 people may have entered the UK to work rather than study, during the first year of since the introduction of the Tier 4 visa.
The NAO has heavily criticized the UKBA for introducing a Tier 4 in 2009 without any key controls in place to ensure that students entering the UK were legitimate. They said this preventable oversight lead to tens of thousands of migrants entering the UK without any checks as to whether they were in fact attending a college. The report also said that very little was done to check whether those students whose visa extension requests had been denied, had actually left the country when they were meant to.
“The agency implemented Tier 4 before the key controls were in place,” the report said. “The Agency withdrew entry clearance officers’ powers to test applicants’ intentions before it had controls fully in place over sponsors and the documentation required to support an application.
“We estimate between 40,000 and 50,000 individuals might have entered through Tier 4 in its first year of operation to work rather than study.”
Conservative MP Richard Bacon expressed his surprise at how the NAO had managed to track down “students” who had overstayed their welcome: “The Borders Agency needs to explain why it took the NAO’s specialist contractor just one week to find addresses for a quarter of the 812 people which the Borders Agency couldn’t trace,” he said. “The contractor charged £3,000, which is less than £15 per person located.”