UK visa policy towards wrongly accused tier 4 students attacked

UK immigration minister, Caroline Nokes, had previously said that Britain’s policy towards immigrants wrongly accused of cheating on English language tests will remain unchanged. However, it seems that the Home Office may be looking into this again. On the back of the recent Windrush controversy, the Home Office faces further questions over its hostile approach to immigration.

Sanwar Ali comment:

Injustice in the UK visa and justice system continues. Migrant Voice a charity has recently produced an update on their campaign on behalf of international students.

Baroness Uddin and Eight MPs have been seeking a parliamentary debate in support of Migrant Voice’s campaign on behalf of many thousands of students, previously on tier 4 visas, who had been wrongly accused of cheating in their English language tests by the Home Office.

Another scandal that has gone unreported is that one of the UK visa regulators is currently being sued in the Employment Tribunal for racial discrimination; There are allegations of widespread racial discrimination against the UK visa regulator. In addition, the UK visa regulator is accused of creating a situation similar in some respects to the Windrush scandal.

Theresa May, when Home Secretary, introduced the hostile environment which many have blamed for numerous unfair decisions by the Home Office, and by those sponsored by the Home Office. This is not what you would expect to see in a free and democratic society. Failure to fully investigate and deal with such matters because it might annoy and upset vested interests is no excuse.

We cannot but help thinking of other situations where there was a failure to investigate further in case it might upset powerful people. While these other cases have nothing to do with UK visas, they are examples of how society has let down those who have suffered due to the behaviour of others. In the Harvey Weinstein case and Jimmy Saville case the persons accused were powerful men who were considered “untouchable”.

At least there is some good news for prospective tier 2 visa migrants. It should now be easier to obtain a tier 2 visa for those resident outside the UK, and others who need to apply for entry clearance from abroad.

The Conservative government appears to be at loggerheads over the treatment of immigrants. Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, had pledged to end ‘hostile UK immigration policies’ just hours after starting his new role. Only hours before, Prime Minister Theresa May justified the government’s hostile handling of immigrants.

Now, following a series of parliamentary answers to questions submitted by Stephen Timms, the MP for East Ham, Caroline Nokes has defended the government’s treatment of immigrants accused of tax malpractice. She stated that every opportunity was given for those suspected of wrong-doing to explain themselves prior to the threat of deportation.

Home Office decisions unreversed

A number of people affected claim they were targeted for minor, easily resolved, discrepancies. However, attempts to reverse Home Office decisions have failed.

Mr Timms described Ms Nokes’ answers as “very disappointing.”

According to Home Office data, more than 35,000 foreign students had their UK visa revoked after ‘cheating’ on the Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC), administered by Educational Testing Service (ETS), a US company.

ETS’s voice-recognition software identified so-called cheats by analysing recordings of the spoken English test taken by students, resulting in thousands of visas being invalidated. However, the thousands accused are adamant that they were wrongly identified as cheats.

Mr Timms argued that many alleged cheaters actually speak impeccable English, and had no reason to cheat on the test. Meanwhile, other people faced accusations as a result of voice-recognition software that incorrectly identified them.

Leave UK to appeal decision

Ms Nokes informed Mr Timms that those facing allegations of cheating would have to leave Britain prior to appealing against a revoked UK visa decision. This is despite a Court of Appeal ruling in December 2017 that specified that the accused should be allowed to appeal while in the UK.

In response to Mr Timms, Ms Nokes simply wrote: “The government has no plans to alter the UK visa appeals system.”

According to evidence presented by IT experts, it’s possible that test centre systems could have overwritten the legitimate files of students with those of proxy test takers, resulting in a high volume of false accusations.

However, Ms Nokes moved to refute the evidence, arguing that the courts had deemed ETS’ methods “sufficient to establish a presumption of fraud.”

Ms Nokes also defended the government’s actions, insisting that officials had behaved fairly and accordingly to deal with tax issues. However, several immigration lawyers claim that people have been given minimal opportunity to argue their case.

UK Visa English Testing a massive problem

In response to Ms Nokes answers to his questions, Mr Timms argued that the Home Office ‘failed to grasp’ the scale of the problem the government agency faces with English language testing. “An admission is needed that serious mistakes have been made.I don’t get any sense of responsibility or accountability based on the Immigration Minster’s answers,” Timms said.

Chief executive of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, Satbir Singh, said: “The minister’s response does not reflect the gravity of the situation. This is yet another astonishing example of how complacency and hostility in our immigration system ruins lives on a daily basis without any accountability.”