The UK Border Agency (UKBA) in Pakistan has decided to tighten its rules in a bid to prevent illegal immigration as part of a global campaign.
“We welcome genuine travellers from Pakistan. Between January and March 2011, we have issued over 35,000 visas to Pakistani nationals but we will not tolerate immigration abuse and will punish those who break immigration laws,” UKBA Regional Director Carol Doughty said.
UKBA is responsible for securing the UK border and controlling migration to Britain.
Doughty said applications made using fraudulent documents or attempting deception will be refused and applicants will face a ban of up to ten years from entering the UK.
Various scams related to illegal immigration have recently come to light while the agency has been making a constant effort to tackle sham marriages – when a non-European national marries someone from the European Economic Area, including the UK, as means of attempting to gain long-term residency and the right to work and claim benefits.
In February, 12 people, including Pakistani and Slovak nationals, were arrested following an investigation by UKBA Islamabad into criminal gangs organising sham marriages. Slovakian women would fly to Pakistan and marry Pakistani men. Documents would then be provided to the men to support a visa application but were generally forged in an attempt to make it appear that the Slovakian women lived and worked in the UK.
British Immigration Minister Damian Green said, “Our investigations into organised immigration crime both in the UK and abroad mean we know the scams the gangs use and can keep one step ahead. The message is clear – the UK is no longer an easy touch.”
Between January and March 2011, UKBA worked with air carriers in Pakistan to stop 214 passengers who intended to travel to the UK without proper documentation on flights from Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar. Additionally, a 40-year-old man from Karachi was jailed for six years and nine months on July 29 after he was caught trying to smuggle heroin at Manchester Airport.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 5th, 2011.
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