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Visa screening for foreign students
Almost 5,000 foreign migrants granted visas to study in the UK each year could be refused entry under new powers to weed out bogus students, figures have suggested.
Risk-based interviews of up to one in 20 potential international students will be brought in over the next year following a successful pilot scheme, the Home Office said.
UK Border Agency (UKBA) staff will also be given a new power to refuse entry to any applicant whose credibility they doubt, with potential students from India, Bangladesh and Burma expected to be among those hardest hit.
The three-month pilot scheme found 32% of almost 2,000 students from outside the EU who were interviewed and granted a UK visa would have been denied one if UKBA officials had the power to refuse visas because they suspected the applicant was not a genuine student, the Home Office said.
Almost half (45%) of applicants from Burma would have been refused under the credibility test, along with almost two-fifths (38%) from Bangladesh and almost a third (29%) from India, the pilot scheme which ran from December last year to February found.
Between 10,000 and 14,000 student visa applicants - around 5% of the total - are expected to be interviewed over the next year.
Further new powers will also enable officials to refuse a visa to anyone who fails to attend an interview without a reasonable explanation.
Immigration Minister Damian Green said: "With more interviews and greater powers to refuse bogus students we will weed out abuse and protect the UK from those looking to play the system."
He went on: "Under the current system UK Border Agency officers are unable to refuse some applications even if they have serious concerns over the credibility of the student. We are toughening up the system to keep out the fraudulent and unqualified while ensuring genuine students benefit from our country's excellent education sector."
Mr Green added: "Britain is open for business to the brightest and the best migrants but the message is clear - if you lie on your application form or try to hide your true motivation for coming to the UK then you will be found out and refused a visa."