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One in four foreign care workers violate UK visa rules, says chief inspector

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ONE out of every four foreign care workers in the UK is breaking visa rules by working in different jobs, a top immigration inspector has revealed.

David Neal, the chief inspector of borders and immigration, found that some visas were given for non-existent care homes or to companies with very few employees, reported The Times.

According to Neal, the Home Office mistakenly granted 275 visas to a non-existent care home and 1,234 visas to a company with only four reported employees. These errors resulted in over 1,500 migrants gaining entry to the UK under false pretenses of employment in the social care field.

Neal’s report, submitted recently, also revealed that the Home Office hasn’t published many of his findings over the past year. Despite being independent, the Home Office decides when to release his reports.

Additionally, Neal will be leaving his position soon, leaving a gap in oversight, especially as the government plans to send migrants to Rwanda. He was appointed in 2021 and will step down on March 21 due to Downing Street’s refusal to renew his appointment.

Neal emphasised the importance of his role at this crucial time, especially with the controversial Rwanda plan in the works.

During inspections, Neal’s team found migrants with care visas working illegally in other sectors. This reflects a larger issue, with an estimated 25,000 out of over 100,000 people with social care visas working illegally.

Changes to visa rules have led to more foreign care workers coming to the UK, along with their families. However, concerns have been raised about the exploitation of workers due to low pay.

Neal criticised the Home Office’s choice of visa route, saying it was not suitable for the care sector, which is vulnerable to abuse.

In his report, he mentioned that inspectors found migrants holding care visas working unlawfully during two out of eight enforcement visits from August to October last year.

This discovery reflects a larger issue, suggesting that around 25,000 out of the 101,316 individuals granted social care visas between August and September last year may have been engaged in unauthorised work outside the care sector. The terms of the care visa permit individuals to work up to 20 extra hours in non-care occupations only if they are on the shortage occupation list.

To address some of these issues, restrictions on care worker visas are being implemented, including barring family members and only allowing sponsorship from registered employers.

“Care workers make a vital contribution to society, but immigration is not the long-term answer to our social care needs,” said Home Office spokesman.

“That is why measures due to be laid in parliament will cut the rising numbers of visas granted to overseas care workers and address significant concerns about high levels of non-compliance, worker exploitation and abuse within the sector of overseas workers.

“It is also why the government has announced that providers in England will only be able to sponsor migrant workers if they are undertaking activities regulated by the Care Quality Commission.”

Additionally, a new border intelligence deal with Frontex is in the works, aiming to track migrants across Europe step-by-step.

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