A total of 19 UK visa applicants have been arrested in Bangladesh on suspicion of fraud, it has been revealed.
The group, who were bound for London, were caught through a joint operation organised by the UK Border Agency (UKBA) and the Bangladeshi police. They are suspected to have provided forged documentation and false bank statements with their visitor UK visa applications, which stated that they intended to attend the Boishaki Mela in East London as stall holders.
Philippa Rouse, director of UK visa services at the UKBA, commented on the case: “The UKBA is working hard with our international law enforcement partners to target the organised criminal gangs who attempt to abuse our immigration system. As this case shows, that work often starts thousands of miles away.
“We want to welcome genuine visitors to the Britain, whether it be for business or tourism. But we will not tolerate fraud, and those caught trying to con the system face long bans from the UK.”
The applicants admitted that they had paid up to £10,000 each to agents who then facilitated the fraudulent documents used in their UK visa applications. Nick Low, British deputy high commissioner in Bangladesh, urged anyone looking to obtain a visa to visit the UK “not to listen to agents who offer to sell forged documents and say they can guarantee a visa”.
“They are criminals who have absolutely no influence over the decision or how quickly it is made,” he added.
In addition to the waste of money, many cases of UK visa application fraud result in the applicant being banned from travelling o the UK for up to ten years. They may also be referred to the police for further investigation and possible charges.