Hundreds of immigrants from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are alleged to have obtained British passports through fraudulent means in what has been dubbed a “cash-for-qualifications” scam involving poorly-regulated colleges that issue fake English language certificates required to qualify for citizenship.
The alleged scam was discovered after a suspiciously sharp increase in the number of immigrants from the subcontinent qualifying for citizenship last year. The number of people from the region who were given citizenship last year registered a two-fold increase — from 24,900 in 2008 to 59,500.
Investigations led to the discovery of colleges that were allegedly selling English language qualifications. The examination watchdog, Ofqual, found that certificates were being issued with “virtually no training or learning taking place and with insufficient rigour in the assessment process”.
According to The Times, one such college — grandly named Oxford College of Management Sciences — is being investigated after it was alleged that it was selling English language certificates for between £250 to £450. The newspaper said a 38-year-old UK-based Pakistani citizen Rizwan Ahmed Kiyani, who runs the college with another fellow Pakistani was being investigated by the U.K. Border Agency which was “actively seeking to remove both men from the country”.
Home Office said that since April it had rejected all citizenship applications that were supported by certificates issues by this college even as Mr. Kiyani’s lawyer was reported as saying that his client had “no knowledge of any fraudulent activity by the college”.
The scam comes on the heels of allegations of “significant” abuse of the student visa system prompting the Government to announce plans to further tighten student visa rules for non-European Union countries.
Immigration Minister Damian Green said there would be a “thorough evaluation” of the rules to make sure that only “genuine” students were allowed to come to Britain.