High-risk UK Tier 4 visa applicants - tougher interviews from 30 July

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UK Immigration Minister Damian Green announced that a targeted interview system for Tier 4 student visa applicants will be introduced 30 July and will focus on high-risk applicants. It is not clear yet how UK Immigration will determine who is a high-risk applicant.

Following a successful pilot programme, the new interview system will ask students a number of questions about their immigration and education history, study and post-study plans, and financial circumstances. The UKBA says they expect to interview up to 14,000 students in the next 12 months and will refuse visas if they are not satisfied that you are a genuine student.

"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," said Green. "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 ensure genuine students benefit from our country's excellent education sector."

The UKBA carried out a pilot programme for the new interviewing system last year to address concerns about the legitimacy of some applicants. More than 2,300 student visa applicants were interviewed in 13 overseas posts with the aim of testing how effective face-to-face interviews would be in addition to existing strict application processes that consider fraud and other factors.

Under the pilot, around a fifth of the applicants were refused entry to the UK based on their performance at interview. One of the main issues was the inability of interviewees to show the required level of English. Some were unable to answer basic questions in English without the aid of an interpreter, despite stating on their Tier 4 visa application that they had the necessary language qualifications to meet the higher education standards in the UK.

The UK Home Office stated that the highest levels of refusals on credibility grounds were found among Tier 4 visa applicants from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Burma, Nigeria and the Philippines. It is expected that the interview programme will be targeted on those who apply for student visas from those countries.

"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," added Green.

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