Albanians have shed light on how easy it is to enter the UK illegally for a better life with higher pay, with one explaining how he thwarted the visa system to be able to live in Britain for three years. It comes as the Home Secretary admitted to a parliamentary committee yesterday that the Government had failed to control the country’s borders amid a massive influx of undocumented migrants.
While honest about the economic pull factor of coming to the UK, local politicians said it was the UK Government’s visa system that was pushing workers to make the treacherous channel crossing, as well as the ease through which Albanians are able to travel through EU countries.
Geri Bucr, a resident of Burrel, in central Albania, was able to use a string of cunning lies to dupe immigration officers, he claimed.
He reportedly paid £4,000 to organised criminals to obtain a “genuine” Italian passport, despite not speaking the language, and was able to fly straight to the UK.
Rather than fly directly from Milan – where his confected passport may arouse suspicions – he flew from Croatia to London.
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He said: “I knew people were using trucks and boats were just starting to be the new way across but they were expensive and they are also dangerous so my way was cheaper and safer.
“Once in London I told the UK officials that my life was in danger and I was the victim of a feud, with people trying to kill me. It was just rubbish and they let me in for three years.
“I used the false Italian passport to get into the country and then claimed asylum in my own name. I lived in Ealing Broadway and I got work there in some restaurants and building sites, I had a good time and I was earning good money.”
The 25-year-old told the Mail that in the UK he was able to earn ten times the amount he is able to in his Albanian hometown, provided there is work available.
Mr Bucr would not say how he became known to the UK Border Force, but it was suggested he became involved in crime while in Britain, something for which he expressed remorse.
As a candidate country for EU membership, Albanians are already granted free travel across member states without hindrance.
Another Albanian in the town, who did not wish to disclose his name, said he had also travelled to the UK for work, using a smuggler across the Channel, before being deported in a raid by immigration officers in Oxford.
He said: “I can get to France easily because there are no visa requirements because Albania is applying to join the European Union.
“I got to Dunkirk and just asked about; there are plenty of Kurds and Albanian middlemen there offering trips across the Channel or you message them on Facebook or TikTok.”
He added: “There [were] about 20 people in my boat and when we reached England no one saw us and the group just ran into the town.”
Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary, drew the ire of the Albanian Prime Minister at the start of this month, after she described the influx of Albanian migrants as an “invasion”.
Edi Rama said the UK Government should “stop discriminating” against Albanians to “excuse policy failures”.
Yesterday, Ms Braverman admitted to the Home Affairs Select Committee that the Government had failed to control the UK’s borders.
Ralf Gjoni, a former MP in Albania who now manages a firm that provides legal workers to the UK, said the British visa system was to blame for the soaring number of people from his country who were travelling to Britain’s shores through illegal means.
He commented: “It is unfair to blame the Albanians for the current situation. Britain has failed to handle Brexit properly and now there are shortages in the workforce for drivers, nurses, IT people and care workers and they don’t have the people to fill these vacancies.
“If the work visa [regime] was better handled then the result would be much better, but the Home Office has failed to liberalise it and so you get an increase in the numbers crossing illegally.”
The Home Office was contacted for comment.