Fraud Spotlight

Fraud in education

Implications for national security

The BBC News Service reported last year that nine criminals were convicted for running an illegal immigration fraud ring in the U.K. Foreign applicants for visas in the U.K. must demonstrate competency in the English language. Secret video recordings depicted fake “sitters” at two colleges in London and Watford taking exams to assess English proficiency for foreign visa applicants in exchange for cash. (See Nine convicted over student visa English test pilot, by Ed Main, BBC News, Dec. 13, 2016.)

Using the educational system for residency and visa fraud isn’t new. In 2014, a fraud ring processing fraudulent student visas enabled “tens of thousands of foreign students” to become permanent residents of Australia. (See “ Thousands of foreign students in visa fraud racket,” by Geoff Maslen, University World News, Aug. 8, 2014.)

“Fraud in international higher education is a $1.5 billion to $2.5 billion business,” said Daniel Guhr, managing director for Illuminate Consulting Group, in Catch Them if You Can, by Elizabeth Redden, Inside Higher Ed, Sept. 14, 2012.

In 2011, David North, a Center for Immigration Studies Fellow, alerted federal authorities to visa and immigration fraud vulnerabilities in the U.S. He divided visa fraud into three categories:

  1. Individual students who drop out of legitimate universities to become illegal aliens on their own.
  2. Visa mills, which are distinctly illegitimate establishments.
  3. Employees of legitimate universities who misuse their positions to convert legitimate foreign students into illegal aliens.

(See Center for Immigration Studies.)

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