UK: Home Office has no idea where 16,000 foreign students are
The students unaccounted for could be anywhere in the UK, since even the Home Office can't track them down. Source: Shutterstock

United Kingdom’s immigration authorities are showing a lack of urgency in tracking down the locations of thousands of international students in the UK, an inspection report reveals.

According to AOL UKthere isn’t any process in place to monitor those residing in the UK on student visas either, leaving the exact number of those who overstay unknown.

Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration David Bolt said while the Home Office has managed to reduce the number of those unaccounted for since he last raised the alarm, the re-inspection shows 16,000 more have yet to be tracked down.

“I believe the Home Office’s approach is lacking in urgency, a view it strongly disputes,” Bolt said, as reported by AOL UK.

“The Home Office’s case would be helped if it were to set a clear timescale for the completion of this work.”

Non-EU international students must prove they are sponsored by a licensed education establishment, which will then notify officials if a student fails to enrol, is absent without leave for ten consecutive days, withdraws or is expelled.

Officials then have the power to curtail the student’s leave to stay in the UK.

The watchdog’s initial review last March found 71,601 cases where officials did not pursue the curtailment process (CNP) This latest report found 25,000 cases where the curtailment notices had yet to be processed.

Bolt said the Home Office’s scarce resources were the reason behind this backlog.

The Home Office said it had made “significant progress” since the previous report, but acknowledged there is still more work to be done for CNP cases specifically.

It is now in the second phase of the work where it will use external databases to track the missing students remaining in UK unlawfully and pass on the results to the enforcement authorities.

The department also pointed out the importance of “working through this cohort methodically and comprehensively to avoid unnecessarily pursuing enforcement action against those who have left the UK or remain in the UK lawfully”.

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