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IMMIGRATION officials are not carrying out proper checks on thousands of visa applications by visitors from high-risk countries including Pakistan and Iran, a Whitehall watchdog has warned.

Border control staff at visa issuing offices overseas were understaffed and “under strain”.

They were frequently at risk of not spotting immigration cheats, said the watchdog report.

Last night, the Tories warned that the blunders mean illegal immigrants and potential terrorists may be going undetected.

A catalogue of failings was uncovered in a report from Linda Costelloe Baker, the Independent Monitor for Entry Clearance.

She warned that UK Border Agency staff did not have “enough time to go through applications carefully”.

Officials were under pressure coping with the visa processing system in countries including Pakistan, Iran and Bangladesh. All have a recent history of political violence and instability, and are thought to harbour militants who are a threat to Britain.

She said staff numbers in visa processing offices were often far below official levels – in one case fewer than half that reported.

Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling said: “The more we learn about the way the Government has been running the immigration system for the past few years, the clearer it becomes that it has been chaotic.

“What we need is tight controls on who can come here and a proper process to investigate dodgy applications.”

The report warned that a rule banning the award of visas to applicants who have previously broken British immigration rules was not consistently applied. In one example “the visit visa ­applicant had overstayed in the UK, used a state school and the NHS – all in contravention of the visa conditions – and, allegedly, lied to an Immigration Office.”

Ms Costelloe Baker wrote: “Material evidence is, increasingly, misread or overlooked.

“Officers tell me that they do not have enough time to go through applications carefully.continues here

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