Soaring numbers of foreign nationals are claiming asylum after arriving on regular visas, the Mail can reveal today.
At least 20,000 such applications were lodged in the 12 months to June, a record high.
The total has surged by more than 100 per cent in a year, exposing a shocking abuse of legal routes.
The foreign citizens are handed the right to come to Britain temporarily – for work, study or a visit – but then claim refugee status to stay permanently. The claims made up about a fifth of all asylum applications.
‘It’s clear the migration system is operating very far short of what our constituents expect,’ said Miriam Cates of the New Conservatives group of backbench MPs. ‘The Government needs to close loopholes like this as a matter of urgency.’
The largest number of asylum claims by visa holders is understood to come from Bangladeshi nationals. Many were also made by Pakistani and Indian nationals.
Thousands are thought to have been granted visas for holiday or business reasons. These people are usually allowed to stay for only a few weeks or months.
Alp Mehmet of Migration Watch UK, which campaigns for tougher border controls, said: ‘This has long been a scam-ridden area about which the Government has little interest. Matters have been made worse by abandoning face-to-face interviews in countries students come from.
‘Control has been handed to universities who are happy to offer places but accept no responsibility for students’ departure.’
Net migration – the difference between the number arriving and those leaving – hit a record 745,000 last year, driven by an influx from non-EU countries.
The Mail on Sunday revealed in October that universities had been warned about a ‘marked’ increase in students seeking asylum.