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1 in 2,000 Pak visa requests checked

LONDON: Fewer than one in every 2,000 visa applicants from Pakistan is being interviewed by British immigration officials, reports The Daily Telegraph (London). The lack of checks on those wanting to come to the UK from the “high risk'' country renewed fears that terrorists or illegal immigrants could slip through the net. It is the...

SAMAA | - Posted: Sep 9, 2009 | Last Updated: 12 years ago
SAMAA |
Posted: Sep 9, 2009 | Last Updated: 12 years ago
1 in 2,000 Pak visa requests checked

LONDON: Fewer than one in every 2,000 visa applicants from Pakistan is being interviewed by British immigration officials, reports The Daily Telegraph (London).

The lack of checks on those wanting to come to the UK from the “high risk'' country renewed fears that terrorists or illegal immigrants could slip through the net.

It is the latest concern surrounding security checks in Pakistan just two months after The Daily Telegraph disclosed that officials there have just 11 minutes to check applications.

It also emerged yesterday that the early release of nearly 150 convicted terrorists had prompted fears that they could plan new attacks and that police and probation services would not be able to cope.

Chris Grayling, the shadow home secretary who obtained the visa application figures, said: “There are very real concerns that the system is being abused by people who have no right to come to the UK. And more importantly there are clear security issues too. Yet it's clear that the checks in our immigration system are wholly inadequate.''

In October, a framework was implemented by the Home Office to deal with visa applications which saw those from a number of countries, including Pakistan, being decided in Abu Dhabi.

Applications from Pakistan are still initially checked for fraud and forgery by entry clearance officers in Islamabad before being passed to Abu Dhabi for a decision.

As a back up, there is scope for officials to request a face-to-face interview if there are concerns about the application.

Between Oct 27 and May 31 there were 66,415 applications in Pakistan to come to the UK but officials interviewed just 29.

While all passports are checked, officials only examine supporting documents in 80 per cent of cases, meaning some 13,283 applications did not have this level of scrutiny.

MI5, the police and probation services will be swamped in coming months as dozens of Islamic terrorists are released after serving just half their sentences. SAMAA MONITORING

Official statistics from May this year showed that 196 people had been convicted of terrorism related offences between 2001 and 2008 but just 125 were in jail – suggesting that 71 had been released.

Another 75 will be released in the next two to three years, according to the probation union Napo. AGENCIES

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