The Immigration Minister Damian Green has announced on 9 July 2012 that an interview system for students will be introduced this summer. He said that the interviews will target those students deemed to be ‘high risk applicants’ and involve asking questions about the individuals' immigration and education history, study and post-study plans and financial circumstances.

The following changes will come into effect on 30 July 2012:

  • the UKBA will refuse entry clearance if an overseas student fails, without a reasonable explanation, to attend an interview either in person or by telephone; and
  • if as a result of the interview the UKBA is not satisfied that an applicant is a genuine student, entry clearance will be refused (those students from low-risk countries will be exempt from this   ‘genuineness’ test).

These changes are intended to safeguard those educational institutions which have made offers to students in good faith, and would otherwise risk compliance action by the UKBA.  Tier 4 sponsors will therefore still need to satisfy themselves that an overseas student is able and intends to follow the course of study.  A refusal on the grounds of genuineness will not be included in the refusal rate under Highly Trusted Sponsor assessments for the first year these changes come into effect.

As above, only students from low-risk countries will be exempt from the ‘genuineness’ test. For the UKBA’s current list of low risk countries, please click here.