The UK Border Agency Friday warned visa applicants of the dangers of being misled by unscrupulous agents.
In a statement issued by the British Deputy High Commission, Chennai, the Agency said that it has sophisticated document verification procedures and if found to be false, an application would be refused. Also, the applicant would face a 10 year ban on travel to Britain and also further investigation by Indian authorities.
UK Border Agency's regional director, Thomas Greig said they welcome genuine visitors, students and workers and are committed to ensuring the quality and availability of visa services for genuine applicants.
"We will, however, not tolerate abuse of the UK visa system and we have a zero tolerance of fraud. I strongly advise anyone who wants a visa for the UK not to listen to agents who offer to sell forged documents or say that they can guarantee a visa," said Greig.
The common areas where forging takes place is false bank statements, education and language certificates.
The Agency also has made it clear that one need not use an agent to make a visa application. All the information is available free of charge on UK Border Agency and VFS Global websites: www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk and www.vfs-uk-in.com.
If need be, applicants should choose an agent carefully and if they are cheated, the matter should be reported to the police.
"Do not believe agents who say that they can, in exchange for money, influence how fast applications are processed or the final decision. They cannot. Visa decisions are made only by visa officers who work for the UK Border Agency," said the statement.
Since Oct 10, 2012, agents are no longer permitted to collect applicants' documents at the end of the visa process.
Applicants can now track the progress of their application to know when their documents are ready for collection and on payment of a small fee, an automated SMS on the progress of the application is also made available.
"Do not be fooled by impostors pretending to be officers from the UK Border Agency. Legitimate visa officers do not meet applicants outside their offices nor do they contact you to ask for money. Also, do not be fooled by fake websites designed to look like official government or VFS websites," warned Greig.
Since the opening of the Visa Facilitation Service (VFS) centre in Kochi in May 2003, there has been a huge spurt in visa applications from Kerala to Britain.