More than 100,000 migrants to undergo face-to-face interviews in attempt to end visa system 'abuse'
UK Border Agency launched pilot scheme last year to interview 'high-risk student visa applications'Theresa May said agency staff will interview 100,000 a year from April
07:54 GMT, 13 December 2012
More than 100,000 migrants a year are to undergo face-to-face interviews when they apply for visas in an attempt to end rampant ‘abuse’ of the system.
Labour abolished the interviews four years ago when they introduced a controversial points-based regime.
Migrants were judged on application forms which included questions about their qualifications and financial arrangements.
Theresa May said the new system will help 'root out the abuse'
But Home Secretary Theresa May said that last year the UK Border Agency began a pilot scheme in which ‘high-risk student visa applicants’ were interviewed in person.
Beginning in Pakistan and moving to other countries, more than 2,300 prospective students were questioned.
Mrs May said: ‘The lesson was clear – abuse was rife, paper-based checks weren’t working, and interviews, conducted by entry clearance officers with the freedom to use their judgement, work.’
As a result, from next April, border staff will question more than 100,000 people annually. Initially, the system will apply to student visas, before being extended to work permits and family reunion routes into the UK.
Mrs May said: ‘I believe this new approach will help us to root out the abuse of British visas.’
UK Border Agency began a pilot scheme interviewing 'high risk student visa applicants' and will interview 100,000 people annually from April
She said the Government wanted to ‘strike a balance’ between encouraging the higher education market and ensuring visas are not a ‘backdoor route into working in Britain’.
Mrs May said: ‘I believe this new approach will help us to root out the abuse of British visas, and improve the integrity of our immigration system.” She said the government wanted to ‘strike a balance’ between encouraging the lucrative market in higher education and ensuring visas are not a ‘backdoor route into working in Britain’.
The Home Secretary added: ‘If you can speak English, and you can get a place on a proper course at a proper university, you can come to study in Britain.
‘There is no cap on the number of students able to come here – and there are no current plans to introduce a cap.’
Mrs May also announced that PhD graduates will be able to stay on for 12 months after they have finished their studies to find skilled work or set up as an entrepreneur.