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BBC uncovers fraud in student visa system

The BBC has uncovered a fraud in the operation of English language testing that is central to the student visa system, leading to the Home Office suspending the testing run by one leading organisation, reports the BBC.

The Home Office has suspended the English language testing run by ETS, one of the largest language-testing companies globally, after the BBC secretly filmed tests where candidates were having their test papers completed for them.

ETS has responded to the footage, shot for BBC's Panorama programme, by saying that whilst it sets the examination papers it does not appoint the 

Panorama has filmed undercover for the past year, following agents who help foreign students successfully apply for student visas by using fraudulent techniques.

Non-EU students already living legally in the UK were employed by the Panorama investigation to pose as bogus students looking to stay in the UK on a student visa so that they could work illegally.

A company called Studentway Education based in Southall told customers they could get them through compulsory English language testing, even if the candidate spoke no English, by having another person sit the exam in their place.

The scam involved having a photograph of the real candidate taken at the exam venue, to serve as evidence that they attended the exam.

"Someone else will sit the exam for you. But you will have to have your photo taken there to prove you were present," said Varinder Bajarh, a director of Studentway Education.

The company offered passes to students for £500. The company also offered customers another service, whereby fake bank account information could be supplied to allow them to prove they had the necessary funds to self-support themselves in the UK, bypassing another key immigration requirement.