Following the screening of a Panorama documentary on BBC TV earlier this year, the Home Office announced a crack-down on ‘private’ colleges enrolling students on the basis of the TOEIC certification; (Test of English for International Communication.) Sixty higher education institutions have been barred from recruiting international students. A criminal investigation has also been launched into the practices of the American Educational Testing Services (ETS) UK based ‘franchises.’
As a consequence, One Immigration are beginning to see and handle more and more cases of Tier 4 applicants (in particular) being refused leave to remain on the basis that their certificates were obtained by fraudulent means. An investigation by ETS, looking back three years, uncovered 29,000 “invalid” certificates and over 19,000 “questionable” ones.
Apart from the numbers involved, this is a serious matter for a number of reasons. The Home Office has sent caseworkers to ETS head office in New Jersey, America in order to see how ETS operates, understand their software and the safeguards they have in place to prevent fraud. Based on what they learned, these caseworkers have given ‘witness statements’ to the courts to be used against those appealing refusal and curtailment decisions.
If you are refused an extension of leave, the Home Office will argue that there is no in-country right of appeal. So far, we are not aware of any successful challenge to the denial of an in-country right of appeal. Judicial review challenges have been unsuccessful in establishing an in-country right of appeal and that students have a private life in the UK under the European Convention of Human Rights which, normally, cannot be interfered with.
You may have to return home and launch an appeal.
Individuals with TOIEC certificates run the risk of arrest and detention. If you are released on bail, strict conditions are imposed; you must live at a given address and any right to work is cancelled.
On top of all this, Section 15 of the Immigration Act 2014 removes rights of appeal to the First Tier Tribunal. Human rights grounds are also being severely restricted. If you have not included human rights grounds with your initial application, you cannot seek to rely on those rights later. That is, making a Tier 4 application which is refused and then later including arguments based on human rights will not attract nor obtain an in-country right of appeal.
Students may not have raised a human rights element in extension applications to continue their studies, but now with the Section 15 changes we would advise students to raise private and private life submissions at the outset. Especially where a student has been here for a lengthy period, has paid substantial course fees, is near the end of their studies, has had lawful employment, has close family here, is in a relationship with a British or EU national or has a child/ren here.
If you have previously used a TOEIC certificate as part of a successful application for indefinite leave to remain, the Home Office will seek to cancel that grant and look to remove you from the UK. The Home Office may seek to refuse an application for further leave to remain or curtail your leave to remain even without evidence that an individual has used deception in view of the Panorama programme, a Home Office review of the tests and a report from ETS concluding that the individual’s test results cannot be relied on.
If you find yourself in the position of having taken a TOEIC’s test and need advice, please call Manjit Singh at One Immigration on 0116 2552110.
One Immigration Ltd