“Tougher” rules have been accompanied by much more lax enforcement. The letter below from a recently retired British immigration official appeared in “The Times” so may attract some attention

I worked at the immigration coalface for 38 years, including spending a number of spells as an entry clearance officer abroad. Your recent reports (May 21) echo the concerns of many recently retired immigration service personnel and many still within the ranks of the UK Border Agency.

The new points system for visa applications, brought about because of an insistence in drastically cutting costs to the detriment of security and a fair and firm immigration process, has devastated the visa officer network that had successfully operated for many years. Whereas previously most visa/entry clearance officers were UK-based, highly trained immigration service or Foreign Office staff, well versed in ferreting out the obvious and at times the not so obvious bogus student, now most applications are now dealt with on a “tick box” system, rather than by personal interview. More and more visa officers are locally engaged staff who are not British citizens and in many cases have never even visited Britain. To leave the security of this country and the implementation of UK government immigration policy in their hands is ridiculous.

In Mumbai some years ago I interviewed a young Indian student coming to study a fairly high level IT course; his papers were in order as were the arrangements for finance. Asked what he used the mouse for on a computer he said he did not leave his computer on the floor so a mouse would not get near it! A few more questions revealed he had absolutely no knowledge of IT and his visa application was refused. Would the current system have revealed this? Of course not. Furthermore, immigration officers at UK ports of entry are now actively discouraged from interviewing visa holders on arrival as this is considered too time consuming and not a good use of resources; “no second bite of the cherry” being the common mantra. This despite the knowledge that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of bogus students arriving annually.

If the Government is serious in its wish to have an effective visa and border control system, then financial consideration must not be its highest priority.