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‘Risky’ Pak applicants for UK visas interviewed over phone

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LAHORE: Students from Pakistan are being interviewed over the telephone from outside the country when there are concerns they might be ‘risky’, British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has admitted in the wake of the arrest of terror suspects who had entered the UK on student visas. British officials based in Abu Dhabi question some applicants over the telephone before giving them permission to enter the UK to study at universities and colleges, according to The Times. But the Home Office denied a claim by Keith Vaz – chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee – that some decisions on visa applications were made in the Foreign Office in Whitehall. The disclosure on telephone interviewing came as Jacqui Smith brushed off criticism from MPs over a series of damaging stories, including the arrest of terror suspects who had entered the country on student visas. It has also emerged the UK government is piloting a system in which all applications from Pakistanis wishing to come to Britain would be dealt with in Abu Dhabi. Applications are processed in Pakistan, but the actual decision by a British entry clearance office is made in Abu Dhabi.

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