UK eyes crackdown on Pinoys with fake visas in 'ber' months
After noticing a spike in fraudulent visa applications in the Philippines, the United Kingdom will intensify its drive against such applications, especially in the '–ber' months.
The UK Border Agency, which will also improve coordination on the matter with Philippine authorities, warned Filipinos caught with fraudulent applications of up to 10 years in jail.
"We are intercepting increasing numbers of fraudulent applications, from 584 in 2007 to 657 last year, and we will continue our efforts, focusing especially on the peak periods of August and Christmas," said Ed Mackie, The UK Border Agency’s Regional Manager for Northeast Asia/Australasia.
According to Mackie, all applications are checked thoroughly with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) - Interpol Division to verify the documents.
The UK Embassy said the UK Border Agency and Philippine law enforcement agencies will seek to identify those providing and those seeking such false documentation.
Its website noted an official police referral program has been in operation since June 2007 in the Philippines.
Under the program, Filipinos who provide or submit forged visa documentation may be arrested and banned from making further applications for up to 10 years.
“We welcome genuine Filipino travelers to the UK, but it is an offence to submit forged documents to support your visa application. If you do, there is a high risk you will be caught and arrested," said Mackie.
He said applicants should make their applications in person, with the support of the staff at the Visa Application Centre, which will ensure the application is accurate.
Those who choose to pay an agent to manage the application should make sure they are properly licensed, he added.
“It is your responsibility to check your documents carefully and make sure they are genuine," he said.
The British Embassy said it has so far referred over 100 applicants to the program to date and will continue working closely with the police to prosecute fraudsters.
"Filipinos who provide or submit forged visa documentation may be arrested and will be banned from making further applications for up to ten years. All applicants are required to submit their biometric details (fingerprint scans and digital photo) and these records will be used to ensure that future applications from individuals who have used false or fraudulent documents are refused without question," it said. - GMANews.TV