Monthly Archives: November 2013

Random Facts About English I Bet You Didn’t Know

Amaze at Dinner Parties and Fill Awkward Silences with Awesome Random Language Facts!

The three infographics below just might illuminate you in ways that may or may not be useful, but are certainly interesting and often comical.

At the very least, they will fuel you with fodder for those inevitable moments of uncomfortable silence, or make you the center of attention at the next cocktail party.

Discover such all-important facts like the origin of the word “sideburns”, the surprising Aztec root of the word “avocado”, how “Dick” came to be a nickname for “Richard”, the mystery of the origin of the word “condom” and how women came to be referred to as “broads”.

Discover these and many more entertaining English language facts below.

Part 1 Facts 1-10


Part 2 Facts 11-20


Part 1 Facts 21-30


Applying for a UK visa? You can now Provide Feedback

If you are making a visa application in the UK you now have the opportunity to tell the authorities about your experience through a new customer satisfaction survey.

The survey is currently open to customers making visit, work, study, family and permanent migration applications in the UK. It does not include intermediaries (such as sponsors, representatives), asylum applicants or cases dealt with by our immigration enforcement team. You can take part whether you use our standard service or our public enquiry office premium service. From December, the survey will also be available to customers who have made applications to UK Visas & Immigration from overseas.

The aim of the survey is to find out how well the application process meets your needs and how authorities can improve in the future.

When you receive your decision letter, it will include a web link and QR (quick response) code to a 10 minute online questionnaire, asking you about the service you have received.

Your feedback will be completely anonymous; it cannot and will not be linked with your application in any way.

The success of research depends entirely on your voluntary co-operation, and we do hope you will be able to take part.

Visa4UK Unavailable from 14 November 2013

The Visa4UK website will be temporarily unavailable from 08:00 GMT on Thursday 14 November 2013, while the site is upgraded. You will be unable to apply for a visa online during this time.

The service may be unavailable for up to 48 hours, however the outage will be shorter for most locations.

If you need to apply for a visa online, please complete your application before Thursday 14 November, and book an appointment if you are required to submit your biometrics. Biometric collection will not be affected by this outage.

Be Vigilant Against UK Visa Scams

We know that criminals around the world are trying to use the UK Border Agency name to steal money from people. They use a number of tricks, often known as ‘scams’. This page tells you about the tricks we know about and gives you advice on protecting yourself.

If you receive an unexpected email, telephone call or letter from someone who claims to be from the UK Border Agency, it may be a scam. We will never contact you to ask for money or your personal details.

How the fraudsters may contact you

We know that criminals are:

  • telephoning people in the UK and other countries;
  • using websites to offer fake services; and
  • using email addresses that look official but are not.

Tricks they use

The criminals try to make you believe that they can offer you something very easily, such as a visa for the UK, or that there is a problem with your application or visa. They will try to make themselves seem very genuine. They may use language that sounds official and may already seem to know something about you, such as your name and address, or that you have applied for a visa. Then they ask you for money or for your personal information.

We know about the following scams.

  • Websites that offer jobs in the UK that do not exist. If you apply for one, they tell you that you have the job and ask you to pay visa and work permit fees. That is not how our visa system works, and there are no shortcuts to a job in the UK. A genuine employer would direct you to this website, where you can make an official application. If the job offer sounds too good to be true, it could be a scam. We will never guarantee a job in the UK.
  • A person who pretends to be a UK Border Agency officer and goes to someone’s home to ask for money to process his partner’s visa. We will never visit you at home to collect money.
  • Calls from people who claim they work for the UK Border Agency and tell you there is a serious problem with your visa. They contact people within the UK and in other countries, and often target students. They appear to be genuine and convincing , and may give a false name and return phone number. They tell you to send money as soon as possible to prevent some kind of action, such as deportation or cancellation of your visa.
  • People who target applicants for UK work visas. They ask you to pay a deposit as proof that you have enough funds to support you in the UK until you receive your first salary. As part of the official application process, you must give us evidence that you have enough money to support yourself, but we will never ask you to give us money.
  • Agents who tell you they can get you a visa using forged documents. We have advanced methods of identifying forgeries and will refuse your application if you use them.
  • Agents who say they can speed up the process of getting a visa. They cannot.
  • People outside the UK who pretend to be one of our visa officers and offer to meet you somewhere. Legitimate visa officers will only meet you at their offices and will never contact you to ask for money.
  • Fake websites designed to look like official ones for the UK government or its official visa enquiry services. Always get your visa information from this website.

These scams have been reported by us to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre. There may be others that we do not know about.

How to protect yourself

You should be suspicious if:

  • What they offer seems too good to be true – an easy job in the UK, or a way to get a UK visa quickly and easily.
  • They ask you for money, particularly if they ask you for cash or to pay using insecure payment methods such as money transfer, Ukash voucher or Paysafecard (which you buy at a shop). These methods do not allow the recipient to be traced.
  • They ask for your bank account or credit card details, or confidential information.
  • They demand secrecy or try to force you to act immediately.
  • The website does not look professional (badly written or designed) or does not include any information about the organisation.
  • You are asked to reply to a free email account such as hotmail, yahoomail, or gmail. The UK government never uses this type of email account to contact you.

Always get your information from official websites. Official UK government websites always have ‘’ at the end of their website address.

Official UK Border Agency email addresses are always in one of two formats:


Sometimes the email address you see on the screen of a fake website or email is in that format, but when you click on it, it creates an email that will be sent to a different address. Always check the actual address on the email you are sending.

If you are suspicious:

  • Do not give out any personal information, or confirm that any personal information they have is correct.
  • Do not pay them any money.
  • Report your suspicions to Action Fraud

You can help to stop scammers by warning your friends and family, and by making Action Fraud aware of any scams that you have encountered.

Now Closed UKBA Still Faces Criticism

Only 1.5% of reports alleging illegal immigration result in a person being removed from the UK, MPs have said.

The Home Affairs Committee also said the now-defunct UK Border Agency had a backlog of 432,029 immigration and asylum cases when it was scrapped at the end of March.

Its chairman, Labour MP Keith Vaz, urged the coalition to take “effective action” to amend a “poor record”.

The government responded that it was “getting tough” on illegal immigration.

The committee looked at the allegations database set up by the UKBA to follow up tip-offs by the public. It replaced a system where allegations and removals were held separately.

It revealed that about 6% of claims had led to an investigation and 1.5% had resulted in removals.


The committee said it was “extremely concerned about the number of allegations that are made to the Allegations Management System that are not investigated.

“We recommend that all allegations are actioned and checked against national databases. It is incomprehensible that only 1.5 in 100 reports of illegal immigration result in someone being removed from the country.”

Mr Vaz said there was a “very poor record” on removals, which did “not give confidence to those who go out of their way to help the Home Office”.

The committee’s report revealed that between its introduction on 30 September last year and 30 June this year, the database had received 48,660 allegations – about 178 a day.

It said the rates of investigation and removal risked undermining confidence in the system and “could lead to reluctance to report such allegations if the public perceive that no action is being taken”.

The MPs recommended that those who made allegations of illegal immigration be told the outcome of investigations, in an effort to improve public confidence.

After a series of damning reports, Home Secretary Theresa May abolished the UKBA and replaced it with UK Visas and Immigration and an Immigration Enforcement command, which were brought back under the control of ministers.


“There are still over 430,000 cases languishing in the backlogs, enough to fill Wembley Stadium almost five times over,” Mr Vaz went on.

“As we have said on numerous occasions, the backlogs must be cleared as a matter of priority. Only then will the Home Office be able to tackle the deeper problems in the immigration system.”

Immigration minister Mark Harper said: “The UK Border Agency was a troubled organisation since its formation in 2008 and its performance was not good enough. That is why we split the agency and brought its work into the Home Office under two distinct directorates.”

He added: “Our newly created UK Visa and Immigration directorate is focused on delivering a high-volume, high-quality visa service, while Immigration Enforcement is getting tough on those who break our immigration laws.”

Mr Harper also said: “We are building an immigration system that the public can have confidence in. We have already reformed the immigration rules and net migration is down by a third since its peak in 2010.”

Under plans announced by the Home office last month, landlords would be asked to check the immigration status of their tenants.

There would also be new powers to check driving licence applicants’ immigration status and a reduction in the number of grounds for appeal against deportation decisions from 17 to four.

Chinese Teachers Face UK Visa Woes

First Minister Alex Salmond has accused the Home Office of “sabotage” after visas were denied for two Chinese teachers returning to work in Scotland through a partnership programme.

Mr Salmond, who is currently on a visit to China, has lodged a protest.

He said the move amounted to sabotage of Scottish government efforts to build cultural links.

The Home Office promised a review and said the situation was being treated seriously.

The teaching programme is run by the Confucius Institute backed by Strathclyde University and the Scottish government.

It involves teachers from China offering Scottish pupils the chance to acquire skills in Mandarin and Chinese culture.

Five teachers from Tian Jin municipality were due to return to Scotland for a second year, but two of them have been told their visas will not be renewed.

Mr Salmond has written to Home Secretary Theresa May voicing his shock and dismay and warned that the episode risks damaging Scotland’s relationship with China.

Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme, the first minister said: “It is an absolutely extraordinary situation you couldn’t make it up. It is deeply offensive to the Chinese and it is a decision that needs to be reversed as soon as possible.

“This amounts to sabotage of a programme that everyone thinks absolutely fantastic and doing great work in Scotland.

“The importance of this is quite fundamental. Our argument is to have a successful economic relationship with China you must have it underpinned by a successful cultural relationship, that is the view of the Chinese, that is the view of the Scottish government.

“If you undermine one you undermine the other.”