It’s 2021 and communication has become swift and reliable. Similarly, checking the authenticity of any piece of information or document has become easier and could be done even from the comfort of your home.
Despite the above, some applicants somewhat believe that the entire UK Visas & Immigration department under the Home Office is grossly incompetent or inadequate in ascertaining the veracity or otherwise of documents they present in their bid for entry clearance (visas). And therefore, continue to present fake documents such as bank statements, employment letters and even birth certificates in support of their visa applications.
Contrary to the above, the Home Office is well-equipped to verify whether documents presented to them are fake or genuine—and mandated by law to place a 10-year ban on any person found to have used a false document or misrepresentation in their visa applications.
The consequence of a 10-year ban is something not worth the risk or any attempt to employ false representation or present fake documents. People may be desperate today and would therefore deceive themselves into believing that they may not be found if they present fake documents. More likely than not, you will be caught—and be banned.
Imagine having been banned for 10-years and down the line, things turn around for you in life—a viable opportunity comes your way to attend an event or a business meeting in the UK and you cannot because of a stupid risk you took some years ago.
Recently, I was contacted by a Ghanaian who was banned 6 years ago. He claims an agent he used at the time presented fake documents which he did not know about. Now, he is a successful businessman but unable to come to the UK to meet his business partners. He is losing businesses.
What a lot of people do not know is that it does not really matter whether the false representation or document was presented by you or your agent, you are deemed to have sanctioned it.
Under Part 9.7.1 of the Immigration Rules, you will be refused entry clearance if false representations are made, or false documents or false information submitted (whether or not relevant to the application, and whether or not to the applicant’s knowledge); or relevant facts are not disclosed. Failure to provide a relevant fact is treated as misrepresentation too.
Paragraphs 320(7A) and 7(B) of Part 9 of the Immigration Rules (for Visitor’s visa paragraphs V3.6 and V3.7) stipulate that any application in which deception is used must be automatically refused and any future entry clearance applications to be automatically refused for 10-years.
It is completely irrelevant whether the applicant knew that he or she has used deception. As long as a false document was submitted, irrespective of whether the applicant knew that it was a false document, the application will be automatically refused—and if it is found that the applicant knew the document is fake or the representation is false, then the paragraph that enforces the 10-year ban applies.
Let me make it clear: if Akosua applied for a UK visa herself or via an agent and deception (being fake document or misrepresentation) was used, her application will automatically be refused. If it is believed that Akosua knew of the deception, then on top of the automatic refusal, she will be banned for 10 years—meaning any new application within 10 years from the date the deception was used will be automatically refused with the exception of an application under Appendix FM.
While the Immigration Rules seem to indicate that whether deception is deliberate or not does not matter, the UK Court has disagreed and has said deception in such a circumstance or to be relevant, there should be some element of dishonesty.
In the case of AA (Nigeria), the Court of Appeal, per Rix LJ stated that ‘false representation’ in paragraph 320(7A) of the rules is restricted to deliberate falsehood rather than an accidental mistake. Similarly, in the case of Ozhogina & Tarasova, the Upper Tribunal ruled that “the use of the deception must have been as the judge said, with the deliberate intent of securing an advantage in immigration terms by the use of a false document known to be false”
Also in the case of R (Agha) v Secretary of State for the Home Department ( False document)  UKUT 121(IAC), the Upper Tribunal found that “For a document to be a false document under the provision of the Immigration Rules at V3.6(a) of Appendix V I find, relying on AA (Nigeria), there must have been an element of dishonesty in its creation and if this is not immediately obvious in a case of an inaccurate document then that element must be engaged within any refusal.”
Case law supports that for there to be deception, the ought to be dishonesty—but it does not, however, matter if the dishonesty came from the applicant or not.
“False Document” is defined in paragraph 6 of the Immigration Rules as including any of the following:
- a document which has been altered or tampered with
- a counterfeit document
- a document which is being used by an imposter
- a document which has been fraudulently obtained or issued
- document which contains a falsified or counterfeit entry clearance, visa or endorsement
Apart from the above, the following may constitute false representation or misrepresentation:
- failure to disclose the existence of a family member
- failure to disclose a criminal conviction
- failure to disclose previous travel to the UK
- failure to disclose presence of family members in the UK
Even if you are not found out at the time of the application, you can still be caught at a later date. A Ghanaian student recently called me for an explanation in relation to what she can do—she applied for a student visa and this was granted. A few days later, UK Visas & Immigration E-mailed her to tell her that they have cancelled her student visa because they have now found out that a false document was used.
When I asked her about this alleged false document, she admitted that her agent altered the bank statement—and I told her that, then the decision to cancel the visa even if already issued is in accordance with the rules.
I recently had a consultation with a young Nigerian woman. She had been to the UK before in the past on a 2-year visitor’s visa. However, during her recent trip to the UK, she was questioned at the border and it emerged that, she failed to disclose on her application for the 2-year visa that she had been refused a visa to the United States before. Her visa was cancelled and she was removed/returned to Nigeria for deception/false representation.
As an Immigration lawyer, I constantly tell my clients and prospective clients that the Home Office is not made up of some drunkard two men in a kiosk, it is a well-equipped institution with very professional and intelligent people, so don’t think you are smarter than them or don’t deceive yourself for a second that you can dupe them. They can check with your bank or any institution–on whatever document you present to them—and in fact, caseworkers are advised to check with issuers of documents when they suspect a document is false.
Therefore, if for nothing at all, think about your future—the 10 years ban may come back to haunt you.
Let me mention that, there is a small chance that the Home Office sometimes may get it wrong—with a genuine document being alleged to be fake. Last year, an applicant from Ghana whose visitor’s visa application was refused and placed under a 10-year ban contacted me—and insisted that his bank account which was claimed to be fake was genuine.
I took on the case, obtained further documents and letters from his bank demonstrating that the bank account/the statement was genuine— and nothing had been altered. In fact, I realized that the Home Office may have quoted the long bank account wrongly during their document verification checks, leading to the outcome that the document was fake. When I challenged their findings with the necessary evidence, they reconsidered and this decision (the 10-year ban) was withdrawn or rescinded.
If a document you presented to the Home Office/UK Visas & Immigration is said to be fake when it is not, then this can be challenged—contact me on +447837576037 (Direct Call/Whatsapp) or E-mail: [email protected]