Theresa May said over 100,000 interviews would be conducted in the next financial year.
12 December 2012
Home Secretary announces interviews for UK visa applicants
The Home Secretary Theresa May has said over 100,000 UK visa applicants will be interviewed as part of their application next year as part of efforts to limit abuse of the system.
Mrs May said the new interview scheme, to begin in April, would 'root out abuse' of the UK visa system and is based on a preliminary pilot program carried out earlier this year.
The Home Secretary said the pilot program involved over 2,000 interviews of student visa applicants and revealed a malfunctioning, laborious system that was open to abuse.
"The lesson from that pilot was clear," said the Home Secretary, "abuse was rife, paper based checks weren't working, and interviews, conducted by entry clearance officers with the freedom to use their judgement, work."
Mrs May said the pilot program's success presented an obvious course of action:
"So I can announce that, from today, we will extend radically the Border Agency's interviewing program.
"Starting with the highest-risk countries, and focusing on the route to Britain that is widely abused - student visas- we will increase the number of interviews to considerably more than 100,000 starting next financial year."
While Mrs May, along with the rest of the Government, have repeatedly targeted international students as a method of bring net migration down and tackling abuse of the system, the home secretary said other routes would be investigated as part of the program.
"From there, we will extend the interviewing program further across all routes to Britain, wherever the evidence takes us.
"I believe this new approach will help us to root out the abuse of British visas, and improve the integrity of our immigration system."
The Government's changes to the UK immigration system have been criticised by some but Mrs May said the aim was to 'strike a balance' between encouraging legitimate migration and allowing the multi-billion pound international education industry to grow and closing all 'backdoor routes into working in Britain'.
The UK Visa Bureau is an independent immigration consultancy specialising in helping people prepare for their UK Ancestry Visa application.