National Police have swooped on examination centres throughout Spain being used for official Spanish language qualification exams to check for students with false IDs taking the DELE (Diploma de Español como Lengua Extranjera).
The operation took place in 40 provinces involving the checking of the identity documents of 3,484 candidates resulting in the arrest of 25 people, including 13 in Madrid.
The operation followed months of investigation into suspected swapping of IDs of students with a low level of Spanish, for those with high enough level to pass the exam.
The D.E.L.E which is an official language certificate of the Instituto Cervantes is a requisite for people seeking to apply for Spanish nationality. The application process includes a written and oral language qualification as evidence of a candidate´s ability to speak Spanish.
All of the detained suspects had applied for Spanish nationality and had paid between 1,000 and 3,000 Euros for other people to sit the examination for them.
The majority of the arrested students are from China, Pakistan and Nigeria.
Due to the difficulty of obtaining the Spanish language certificate, the interested parties contacted other foreigners of the same nationality, with similar appearance, so that they could impersonate their identity on the day they sat the exam.
The police later arrested 7 people suspected of facilitating the arrangements between the parties and providing the false documentation that was presented at the examination centres.
According to the Spanish Ministry of Education some 60,000 official language examinations are taken every year.