The Telegraph is reporting that thousands of British pupils at independent schools could be forced to undergo passport checks to prove they are not illegal immigrants because of confusion over new Home Office guidelines…
Up to 650 leading independent schools have been thrown into legal limbo by rules intended to close loopholes in the student visa system.
Until last month any school or college which acted as a sponsor on visa applications for overseas students had a legal requirement to show that they had taken “reasonable steps” to vouch for them.
In practice this has been was done by the school looking at their passports.
But under the new rules which came into force last month, the wording was changed to extend the requirement to “every student” in schools which are licensed to act as visa sponsors.
That means that instead having to vouch for 20,000 non-EU pupils, those schools have a new legal responsibility extending to 325,000 children, the vast majority of them born in the UK.
The Home Office guidelines do not specify exactly what would now constitute “reasonable steps” leaving schools unclear as to whether that means mass passport checks.
The Independent Schools Council has been lobbying the Home Office behind the scenes to clarify the issue and hopes to have additional guidelines agreed in the next month.
But, without clear legal guidelines in place, it has written to its members warning them that they now have new legal responsibilities to ensure that “all pupils have valid permissions” and that they could lose their licence if they fail to do so…
Any merit in making them check all passports or is this a bit of legislation that needs re-drafting? Please give us your thoughts in the comments or on twitter…