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UKBA warns of “unscrupulous Indian agents”

The UK Border Agency has warned Indian students against using “unscrupulous” education agents to book courses in the UK, saying that agents and students involved in fraud will face action from the Indian authorities. India is thought to be considered a “high risk” student visa category by UKBA.

“If you wish to use an agent, choose one carefully and get the right advice"

In a statement published on the British High Commission’s website, UKBA’s regional director, Thomas Greig, told students, “Do not be misled by unscrupulous agents into thinking that it is acceptable to submit forged documents with your visa application. It is not.

“The UK Border Agency has sophisticated document verification procedures. Your application will be refused, you face a 10 year ban on travel to the UK and also further investigation by the Indian authorities.”

“Your application will be refused, you face a 10 year ban on travel to the UK and also further investigation”

Grieg singled out activities such as the submission of false bank statements and education and language certificates; and said students should avoid agents who say they can influence application processing times, or the final decision, in exchange for money.

Students should also be wary of “imposters pretending to be officers from UKBA or the British High Commission”. And targeting the services most commonly offered by agents, he said, “You do not need to use an agent to make a UK visa application. All the information you require is available free of charge on UK Border Agency and VFS Global websites.”

Talking to The PIE News, Mamit Agarwal, consultant at the Indian agency Nodnat, agreed agent fraud was a problem but said that UKBA was overlooking the important role played by genuine agents, given ”more than 90%  Indian students were unaware of visa requirements”.

“Sometimes even some of the experienced agents get puzzled while doing the visa application, so how can you expect a student who never travelled outside his city or country will be able to do this by himself?” he said.

“How can you expect a student who never travelled outside his city or country will be able to do this by himself?”

“I think UKBA should keep a proper track of the authorised agents and can seek regular updates from the universities about the agents performance and ethical values.”

In July, UKBA began interviewing student visa applicants from countries deemed “high risk” after uncovering hundreds of sub-standard visa applications in a pilot study of 13 visa posts. 71% of Indians interviewed in the pilot could potentially have been refused a visa – third highest after Burma and Bangladesh – although UKBA said refusal rates in actuality were “expected to be considerably lower than the pilot data suggests”.

India is the UK’s second largest source of overseas students, accounting 39,090 new enrolments in 2011-12.

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