The Home Office has confirmed that it is to introduce a trial scheme that will charge visitors from certain 'high-risk' countries £3,000 bonds for UK visa access.
The pilot is set to begin this November and will apply to foreigners coming to Britain from six Asian and African countries on six-month visitor visas. However, it is thought that ministers would like to extend the programme to cover all UK visa types and countries over time.
Essentially, the bond will require people from certain countries to pay £3,000 upon arrival in the UK. If they fail to leave the country by the end of their agreed visa, the bond will not be returned.
Home secretary Theresa May described the system as the "next step" in increasing how selective the UK immigration process is. The bond system will form part of the government's plan to cut down the country's net migration levels to the "tens of thousands" by 2015.
Ms May said: "In the long run we're interested in a system of bonds that deters overstaying and recovers costs if a foreign national has used our public services.
"The pilot will apply to visitor visas, but if the scheme is successful we'd like to be able to apply it on an intelligence-led basis on any visa route and any country."
The comments from the Home Office added that it had chosen the original countries for the trial – which include Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Ghana – because they all contribute a high volume of UK visa applicants who abuse the system.
Comments from Indian newspaper 'The Hindu' have already criticised the campaign: "Controversially, the move is targeted only at people from non-white Commonwealth countries."