Select Committee on Home Affairs Additional Written Evidence

18.  Fifth supplementary memorandum submitted by the Immigration and Nationality Directorate, Home Office


  This note provides a summary of key strategies developed by Managed Migration Directorate (MMD) to tackle potential abuse. There are four key strands in the approach:


  As part of the wider IND strategy based on the National Intelligence Model (NIM), we have created a single intelligence unit to cover all managed migration workstreams. The unit has staff at each of our three main sites (Liverpool, Croydon, Sheffield). The key function of those staff is to develop intelligence packages and conduct assessments of potential risks to the control so that suitable counter-measures can be developed. For each of our four main workstreams (employment, study, family and nationality) senior operational managers chair monthly meetings to analyse "heatmaps" which summarise trends in intake and decisions that might indicate potential areas of abuse. Action to tackle potential abuse may be taken by local managers. Significant or cross cutting issues are referred to the Managed Migration Tactical Tasking and Co-ordination Group, chaired at Senior Director level and including representation from UKvisas, which meets monthly to review risks across Managed Migration as a whole.


The intelligence process outlined above provides the basis for a risk based approach to casework. Certain categories of application may be subject to additional casework checks, such as pre-decision verification visits, where the intelligence indicates that there is a higher risk of potential abuse.

In other circumstances, intelligence may require changes to the management of casework teams to reduce the risk of abuse. On the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme, we have organised our operation into country specific teams to enable caseworkers to gain expertise on types of abuse prevalent in some countries. We are working with the Risk Assessment Units at posts abroad to check documents at source where we have concerns over authenticity.

Intelligence has led to concerns about the validity of some certificates purporting to provide an assessment of proficiency in English at ESOL level in support of Naturalisation applications. Action is being taken to verify the actual ability of applicants in those cases, for example by arranging a separate interview. Changes have also been made to ensure that nationality applications submitted by those abroad go via local posts so that suitable identity and verification checks can be conducted locally.


—    To tackle abuse in the study route, the Education and Training Providers register which is run by DfES was introduced on 1 January 2005. DfES estimates that between 200-300 colleges, probably non-genuine, were not able to meet the requirements for registration, and so were no longer able to attract international students. Between April and December 2004 the Student Task Force visited 1,218 educational institutions and 314 (25%) were found not to be genuine. All applications from students to study at these institutions were refused. This work resulted in around 10,000 fraudulent student applications being avoided or refused and appropriate action taken on approximately 1,800 bogus students. Details of students granted leave to study at colleges can be placed on appropriate IT systems so further enquiries can be made when encountered.

—    The Student Task Force continues to build on these successes by continuing to conduct compliance visits where adverse information or intelligence is received about a provider on the register or where the DfES make a request for us to find out more information about a potential provider. Where sufficient evidence of abuse is discovered a college can be removed from the register and of the 45 further colleges visited in 2005, 21 were deemed non-genuine and removed from the Register. Since June 2004, education providers have been encouraged to voluntarily report discontinuation of study to IND and approximately 100 institutions report to the Student Taskforce monthly. Investigations identify those who have enrolled elsewhere. Those whose whereabouts are not confirmed are flagged on IT systems so that further enquiries can be conducted.

—    The Student Task Force is also conducting the Joint Notification project with UKvisas and 38 volunteer institutions from the education sector, to test options and processes, for notification of discontinuation of study. The results of this project are expected in March 2006 and will further our understanding of the impact of this activity on the education sector and inform decisions about whether this should be a mandatory requirement.

—    Certificates of approval for marriage and closer working with registrars has substantially reduced the number of sham marriages taking place. The numbers of reports from registrars have dropped from 3,740 in 2004 to less than 200 since February 2005 when the new marriage provisions were introduced. Dedicated marriage caseworking teams have been set up in Croydon and Sheffield. These teams conduct an increased number of marriage interviews (including marriage to EEA nationals). Also, a number of high profile targeted enforcement operations aimed at sham marriage fixers and participants have resulted in convictions. In the London area alone, there have been 114 people arrested in connection with taking part in or arranging sham marriages during 2003-04. Of these 43 people were charged and given custodial sentences of up to 18 months. The offences range from: conspiracy to commit perjury; offences under the Immigration Act 1971; offences under the Conspiracy Act. During 2004-05, 100 people were arrested of whom 59 were charged and received sentences from three months to nine years.

—    On the employment side, we have compliance and validation teams who undertake visits to employers to check they are complying with the work permit arrangements. This may be in response to intelligence gathered on a particular employer or as result of casework teams highlighting concerns that need to be checked. Last year, we visited around 600 employers, the findings range from minor breaches that can be rectified to more serious instances of abuse. As a result, we have revoked 222 work permits issued to 61 employers. This had also led to the curtailment of leave for 124 individuals.


  Finally, we are increasing our capacity to identify forged documents. Caseworkers who decide Right of Abode applications can refer documents for examination if there are any doubts over the authenticity. Dedicated Forgery Teams will be operational in Liverpool by September 2006 and Croydon by the end of the year. The National Document Fraud Unit, working in partnership with our team in Sheffield has already proved very effective, for example Lithuanian passports presented through the Worker Registration Scheme over a two week period resulted in the successful prosecution of 12 individuals.

Chris Hudson

27 February 2006

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