Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Student visa fiasco as its revealed one in six handed out by Britian  goes to a worker

A flawed immigration crackdown may have allowed up to 50,000 bogus students into Britain, a damning report reveals.

The National Audit Office estimates that around one in six of student visas granted went to workers whose intention was to take jobs.

It found that predictable failings in Labour’s points-based system meant the number of student visas issued went up by a third in its first year.

The public spending watchdog also criticised the UK Border Agency for failing to remove from the country an estimated 160,000 migrants whose visas have expired.

It is the latest blow to the reputation of UKBA. Last year it was disclosed that border checks were downgraded without ministers’ approval.

And a report last month revealed 500,000 passengers were allowed into Britain on Eurostar trains without checks against the database of known terrorists and criminals. 

Today’s report exposes how Tier 4 of the points system, which covered higher and further education students from outside the EU, was introduced in 2009 despite major flaws.

It reveals only one third of colleges had been checked by immigration officials before they were allowed to accredit students. And officials were stripped of their powers to turn away suspected bogus students at the borders before proper checks on document applications were in place.

That meant they were often powerless to turn away students who they believed had no intention of studying and were simply here to work.

In the first year of operating Tier 4, the number of student visas issued rose by a third from 235,615 to 313,320.

The NAO estimates that between 40,000 and 50,000 of those – up to one in six – were applicants intending to work rather than study.    

The report finds students whose visas have expired are regarded as a ‘low priority’ by the agency compared to illegal immigrants and failed asylum seekers.  As a result, very little action is taken to kick them out. Since 2009 just 2,700 students have been removed.

The report quotes UKBA figures showing around 159,000 people  are thought to be in Britain despite their visas having expired, including tens of thousands of Tier 4 students.

To test how hard it was to find  them, the NAO hired a private  contractor which in just a week discovered addresses for nearly one in five of 800 individuals.

Labour MP Margaret Hodge, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, said: ‘This is one of the  most shocking reports of poor management leading to abuse that I have seen.  ‘It is completely unacceptable that the programme was launched without key controls being in place.

‘The agency has done little to stop students overstaying their visas. And it is extremely worrying that the agency does not know how many people with expired student visas are still in the country.’

Former Border Agency chief Lin Homer, recently appointed to a senior role within HM Revenue and Customs, is likely to face a grilling by the committee in coming months.

The Home Office said it disputed the 40,000 to 50,000 figure.

Immigration Minister Damian Green added: ‘This government has introduced radical reforms in order to stamp out abuse and restore order to the uncontrolled student visa  system we inherited.’


Republicans Craft more realistic Version of DREAM Act

The Democrat version had virtually no enforcement provisions so there are big areas for improvement

 Republican leaders in the U.S. Senate are preparing a watered-down version of the DREAM Act to legalize undocumented students as a type of "lure" to capture the Hispanic vote in November.

Although no details of the prospective bill have filtered out, Sen. Marco Rubio is working along with other Republican on an "alternative version" of the DREAM Act, which became stalled in the Senate in 2010.

Rubio told the daily The Hill that for now there is nothing new to announce but that his goal is to arrive at a "responsible" solution to the presence of undocumented immigrants in the United States and announce it "quickly."

In remarks to Efe, a spokesman for Rubio, Alex Burgos, said Tuesday that the Florida senator "wants to help these young people and do it in a more limited way than the DREAM Act would do." "He will continue working with his colleagues to achieve a bipartisan solution," Burgos added.

Rubio said in a March 1 interview with Efe that he is maintaining his commitment to achieving a bipartisan solution to illegal immigration.

Among the possible ideas he is weighing, he said at that time, is creating "a student visa so that they can stay to finish their studies until they can apply legally."

Without citing any names, Rubio also complained that some politicians, instead of conducting a bipartisan dialogue, are only seeking to use the problem of undocumented immigrants "as a political weapon in November."

Citing Senate sources, The Hill said that the proposal, negotiated in secret, will be announced after Mitt Romney secures the Republican president nomination.   It would be, The Hill says, a bill from which both parties would benefit: undocumented students would regularize their immigration status and Republicans would have something tangible to show the Hispanic electorate in November.

Romney, who continues to have a sizable advantage over his rivals in both money and organization, opposes immigration reform that allows the regularization of all undocumented immigrants in the United States, whose numbers are calculated to be more than 11 million.  In January, however, Romney suggested that he would support the legalization of undocumented students who serve in the U.S. military.

In any case, the Republicans are now seeking - as a bloc - to resuscitate measures to provide immigration relief for undocumented foreigners in the midst of an election year and this is raising suspicions both among pro-reform groups and Democrats.


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