The UK Home Office has launched an investigation into claims that migrants who speak no English are able to buy certificates showing they have passed a “secure” language test.
Undercover filming at an exam centre showed the certificates, which are required by anyone wanting to remain in the UK permanently or to apply for British citizenship, being sold for £500.
UK newspaper The Daily Mail, following information from a whistleblower, carried out an investigation into the exam centre at Upton Park, east London.
At the centre, which is run by Learn Pass Succeed (LPS), journalists witnessed migrants who can speak no English being able to pay for a certificate saying they passed a language test.
James Brokenshire, Immigration and Security Minister, said in a statement: “The Home Office takes any allegation of fraud extremely seriously and we have already begun a full investigation.
“We will take the strongest possible action against anyone who is found to have abused the rules – including the possibility of criminal prosecutions for fraud.
“This ESOL certificate is just one element of a wide range of evidence required by individuals applying for settlement and citizenship.
“Nobody can gain a UK visa on the strength of this qualification alone.”
A Director at LPS, which has three other London branches, said that the problem was only at the Upton Park centre.
Uzwan Ghani said that LPS had suspended tests taken at the centre.
Mr Ghani said: “I’m shocked that this has happened and am very concerned as to how it could have happened.
“We are very thorough when it comes to checking IDs of candidates before they take the test, so I will have to investigate which of the centres the test was taken in and who the assessor was.
“I’ve been in the business for five years and I’ve never come across something like this and I would not allow it. It is wrong and ridiculous.”
An investigation into the allegations has been launched as a matter of urgency.