As part of a global campaign the UK Border Agency in Pakistan has continued its efforts to stop illegal migration and crack down on criminal gangs involved in sham marriages. In Pakistan, over 200 people were stopped from travelling illegally to the UK. Twelve people were arrested in a Slovak/Pakistani forced marriage ring; and almost 6000 forged documents submitted with UK visa applications were identified.
Carol Doughty, the UK Border Agency regional director for Pakistan said:
‘We welcome genuine travellers from Pakistan and between January and March 2011 issued over 35,000 visas to Pakistani nationals.
‘But we will not tolerate immigration abuse and will punish those who break immigration laws. Our aim isn’t just to prevent illegal migration but also identify and take out those criminals behind these immigration scams.’
In February 2011, 12 people – a mixture of Pakistani and Slovak nationals – were arrested following an investigation begun by the UK Border Agency in Islamabad into a sham marriage ring. Slovakian females would fly to Pakistan and enter into marriages with the Pakistani males. Documentation would then be provided to the males to support a visa application. The documentation was generally forged in an attempt to make it appear that the Slovakian females lived and worked in the UK.
Between January and March 2011 the UK Border Agency worked with air carriers in Pakistan to stop 214 passengers who were intending to travel to the UK without the proper documentation from flights from Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar. Additionally, a 40 year old man from Karachi was jailed for 6 years and 9 months on Friday 29 July after trying to smuggle heroin through Manchester Airport.
UK Border Agency officers receive detailed forgery and detection training and last year they detected close to 6,000 forged travel or supporting documents in visa applications made in Pakistan. Pakistan has one of the highest levels of forgery detection in visa applications. In many cases forged documents are submitted on an applicant’s behalf by unscrupulous agents. 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. These checks are also used to identify genuine documents, and thus speed up the processing of legitimate visa applications.
Immigration Minister Damian Green said:
‘We are doing more than ever to stop those seeking to abuse our immigration system from entering the UK and, as this investigation clearly demonstrates, that work does not stop at the UK border.
‘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.’