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Pakistani students face new visa test

News Desk, London
Friday, 13 April, 2012 08:34:29 AM

All Pakistani students intending to study in Britain will be interviewed face to face as part of measures being tried to crack down on bogus applications.

A new "credibility test" is expected to boost the rate of refusals from 20% to more than 40%, according to a Government source.

Theresa May, the home secretary, will soon announce that "bogus" students will be blocked from entering Britain when the measures are introduced.

The home secretary's plan, which, at first, will be run on a short-term basis, is likely to lead to a big increase in resources at Britain 's consular operations in Pakistan . For the past five to 10 years visas have been approved via paper applications.

The move follows a UK Border Agency pilot study conducted in countries such as Bangladesh , India , Egypt , Pakistan and the United States .

The findings apparently suggested that a large proportion of candidates could not speak English well enough to qualify.

The source said using face-to-face interviews had been particularly effective in Pakistan , uncovering reasons for rejection in 43% of applications. The rate under the existing, largely paper-based, system is said to be 20%.

The government hopes to extend these pilot schemes. As a first step, compulsory interviews will be held in Pakistan.

The pilot study found 38% of applicants from Bangladesh would be considered ineligible for a student visa. In most cases this was because applicants were unable to answer basic questions in English without the aid of an interpreter.

The failure rate in other countries is projected to be 29% in India , 28% in Egypt and 27% in Sri Lanka . In Canada and the US , which are predominantly English speaking countries, the failure rate is projected to be 4%.

The government's decision to hold compulsory interviews in Pakistan comes after the National Audit Office found that up to 50,000 people could have entered Britain to work on student visas.

The NAO said that in 2009 the UK Border Agency introduced a points-based system (Tier 4) which lacked key controls.

The report said this raised the prospect of thousands of migrants entering Britain with no checks about whether they had plans to study.

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