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Tuesday 20 February 2024

Thousands of migrant care workers believed to be abusing UK visa rules

An immigration official has revealed a quarter of foreign care workers are reportedly abusing UK visa rules by illegally working in other industries'.

The chief inspector of borders and immigration, David Neal, has released a series of shocking findings from his inspection into the Home Office's handling of the social care visa route since it was introduced in 2022. The visa was designed to plug a labour shortage in the care sector.

However, Neal says he found the Home Office had issued 275 visas to a care home that did not exist. And another 1,234 were given to a company that stated it only had four workers when it was given its licence to operate.This means over 1,500 migrants from two instances alone were allowed to move to the UK under the guise of having a job in care, reports The Times.

Neal is understood to have issued a report to the Home Office earlier this month. However it is said to be one of 13 waiting to be released.

While the reports are independent, the decision on whether or not to publish them rests with the Home Office.

Neal was appointed in 2021 but will leave his role next month after Downing Street stepped in to block his reappointment. The decision breaks a convention set by his predecessors who were all given two three-year terms.

The Times sources say a successor is unlikely to be appointed in the next six to nine months, meaning there will be no independent oversight for the implementation of the Rwanda plan.

As part of his inspection, Neal said his team encountered migrants with care visas working in other fields. This he says was a feature in two out of eight enforcement checks between August and October 2023.

Neal says this is representative of the portion of migrants on care visas working in other fields in the UK. This would mean around 25,000 of the 101,316 people granted a social care visa in the year up to September 2023 were working in other sectors.

Part of the conditions of a care visa is that an individual is allowed to work an additional 20 hours in a non-care job if it is on the shortage occupation list.

Neal said his Home Office inspection found its management of the social care visa system had "echoes of previous inspections", which highlighted the consequences of its failure to accurately forecast things, such as small boat arrivals.


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