The Upper Tribunal has ruled that the deportation of over 48,000 students was unlawful, meaning they are now eligible to re-enter the UK and may even be entitled to compensation due to the losses suffered. There is now increasing pressure from the National Union of Students for the government to hold an enquiry into the conduct of the Home Office with reference to what is being dubbed as the ‘TOEIC scandal’.

What is the TOEIC Scam?

In order to qualify for a number of UK Visas, applicants are required to undergo an English Language Test. These are carried out at designated, approved test centres throughout the UK and abroad. For student visas, international students were required to take the TOEIC language test in order for them to gain a visa to study in the UK. In February 2014, it was revealed in a story by the BBC’s Panorama that some prospective students were able to buy themselves past the test, with some unscrupulous institutions providing a ‘pass’ in which they were guaranteed to pass the language test for a fee, regardless of their competency or comprehension of English.

An investigation was launched into one sole provider of the tests, the findings of which were then used by the Home Office as evidence of fraud in all centres administering the TOEIC. Unfortunately, this led to over 48,000 international students studying in the UK who had taken their language tests in the designated centres being deported due to their language certificates being rendered invalid.

What have the courts decided?

After being deported, a number of students who had been impacted brought a case to the Upper Tribunal. At the end of March, a ruling was made against the Home Office, stating in judgement that the deportation of thousands of international students had been unlawful and “the appellants are the clear winners” in the case. The Court questioned the expertise and relevancy of the credentials of the witnesses brought by Theresa May and the Home Office in defence of their decision, ultimately deeming that the “burden of proof had not been discharged”.

What does this mean for international students?

International students who were deported unlawfully as a result of the situation caused by the Home Office may now be eligible for re-entry into the UK, as well as being entitled to claim compensation for the disruption to their studies and their lives.

What should I do if I have been deported?

If you have been deported as a result of the unlawful practices by the Home Office in relation to the TOEIC language tests then you will need to seek professional immigration advice immediately. We would recommend speaking to a professional who is familiar with the impact that the outcome of this case has had on the student visa process, and who can give accurate advice on next steps to allow you to re-enter the UK and continue your studies.

The IAS team are available to talk to those who have been affected on 0844 887 0111.