Overseas Students: English Language Tests

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:46 pm on 30th April 2019.

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Photo of Caroline Nokes Caroline Nokes The Minister for Immigration 12:46 pm, 30th April 2019

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his question. I will return at the outset to the comments I made about the National Audit Office report, which is expected to be published next month. The Home Office has been working closely with the NAO to provide information and evidence, and it is right that the Home Secretary has the opportunity to reflect on the report, consider its findings and come back to the House with a statement.

The right hon. Gentleman spoke about the court cases that have happened. Under the appeals framework, which is set by Parliament, and the Immigration Act 2014, there are no in-country appeals in the student route, through which these visas were issued, but the Home Office is taking a pragmatic approach. It is important to reflect that we are talking about fraud perpetrated back in 2014, and many people who have ongoing ETS litigation will potentially now have the right to bring a human rights claim. If they are refused under the human rights route, they will then generally have an in-country right of appeal.

There were an enormous number of cases where fraud was found, and matching showed that a number of individuals had taken repeat tests on behalf of thousands of people. There was a criminal trial at the start of this month, which saw a further five convictions. While I appreciate the strongly held beliefs of the right hon. Gentleman, it is important that we reflect that this was fraud on an industrial scale, and we should react responsibly.