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Home Affairs to blame for UK visa restrictions
Monday, 15 September 2008

THE ongoing "chaos and fraud" at South Africa's Home Affairs Department is mostly to blame for South Africa's slim chance of making the grade for the UK's new youth visa scheme, according to security experts.

The UK's current Working Holidaymaker Scheme will be abolished in the coming months and replaced with a new Youth Mobility Scheme. Visas similar to the Working Holiday Visa may be issued under the Youth Mobility Scheme's five-tiered point system, but youth travellers will have to be citizens of a country that has qualified to participate in the scheme (TIR 360 ° e-News, July 7).

At this point it is unlikely that South Africa will meet the criteria to qualify, and industry experts say this is largely because the Department of Home Affairs has not taken sufficient steps to stamp out the rampant fraud within its ranks.

SA Fraud Prevention Services Chief Executive, Patrick Cunningham, said it is becoming increasingly clear the UK will impose restrictions on young South African travellers due to the security risks posed by the high rate of passport fraud.

Ina van der Merwe, Chief Executive of Kroll Background Screening, reported that about 14 percent of all credentials - including passports - submitted to her company for verification are fraudulent, which she said is a clear indication that the situation at Home Affairs has not improved.

"A major problem that we have to deal with is the fact that many of these passports are 'genuine' in the sense that they have been issued by the Department of Home Affairs, but are illegal because they have been bought under the counter from corrupt Home Affairs officials," she said.

A spokesman for 1st Contact Visas said the current UK Working Holiday Visa and Au Pair Visa would be terminated in November, but this could not be confirmed at the time of going to press.

By : TIR
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