Passing the English test is one of the crucial requirements that applicants need to meet in order to be granted with British citizenship. There are several test centers that the Home Office had authorized to administer the English language test. The complete list can be found at Home Office’s official website. If an applicant takes and passes the English Test from a test center not included in Home Office’s list of accredited centers, then the test results can’t be used as evidence that an applicant passed the test. This will in turn for the British citizenship application being denied.
Some applicants will go through great lengths just to pass the English Language Test, to the point of even paying a considerable amount of money. BBC’s Panoroma exposed Student Visa system fraud that has been running rampant in test centers across United Kingdom. Due to this shocking expose by Panorama, the Home Office suspended English language tests run by a major firm. The impact of this fraud can be damaging to those applicants who strictly adhere to the requirements.
Just how Panorama uncovered this fraud? For the last year, the program has been filming undercover. BBC’s crews follow a network of agents helping applicants extend their student visa extensions. These agents help applicants in very fraudulent and unethical manners. Agents pose as bogus students. The Studentway Education consultancy located in Southall west London could provide assistance and pass an applicant in English tests even if the said applicant cannot speak English at all.
An agent will sit and take the exam for the applicant. Just to prove that the applicant was at the test center, his/her photo must be taken. In exchange of passing the test, the applicant is asked to pay 500.00 UK pounds which is about 3 times more expensive than the fee.
Once the applicant has paid that ridiculous amount of money, he/she will then be asked to take the test at Eden College International. Here, the “fake sitter” will take the TOEIC visa application test for the applicant. All the applicant has to do is to wait outside until the fake sitter is done taking the exam.
Another form of fraud uncovered by Panorama is that invigolators just read the correct answers out loud. Literally, the answers to the multiple choice questions are just given away. So there’s really no point in studying. After a few days BBC’s undercover who took the exam returned to Studentway and was given a TOEIC certificate indicating that she passed the test.
In terms of bank statements, some agents encourage applicants to use someone else’s account to show that they have enough money to cover for their expenses while living in the United Kingdom indefinitely. BBC’s undercover worked with a Mr. Kumar and he proposed to steal the bank account details of an individual who share the same name with the undercover reporter. After two weeks, the undercover received a bank statement from Studentway stating that she had more than sufficient amount of money under her name.
Studentway denied all these allegations. Mr. Bajarh, a representative of Studentway claimed that this Mr. Kumar does not directly work with them. Although there were footages showing that Mr. Kumar and Mr. Bajarh closely work together inside Studentway’s office.
Home Secretary Theresa May have made an official statement saying that the government is going to take actions like implementing stricter guidelines. Ms. May is considering to implement face to face interview to minimize or even completely eradicate fraudulent application procedures.
To date, there are already 700 colleges that had been ordered to stop bringing students in the United Kingdom outside of European Union.
With the uncovering of these fraudulent and unethical practices there is a huge possibility that requirements are going to be more stringent. With this, applicants who follow proper procedure may reduce their chances of being approved with British citizenship. Although it is early to tell what are the future changes that will be implemented, one could only think of possible worse case scenarios. It is really disappointing to know that some people will have the guts to cheat just to be granted with extended stay while some are honestly working hard to meet the requirements. These fraudulent actions directly affect all applicants. On the surface, if the changes to be implemented are going to be more stringent, they can be completely unfair to those who are honest and morally upstanding. But on the government’s stand point, changes are necessary to avoid fraud and dishonesty in the future.