Languages test for suspect asylum-seekers

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Asylum seekers claiming to come from Palestine or Kuwait will face being tested on their own language in a bid to weed out bogus applications under changes announced by ministers today.

Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said a "significant proportion" of Palestinian and Kuwaiti claims were actually from other nationalities.

The change follows a similar effort to tighten up restrictions on Somali asylum applications.

In a written statement to MPs, Mr Woolas said: "Language analysis carried out for some Somali asylum applicants demonstrates that significant proportions of those tested have claimed to be of a nationality, or from a region or grouping, that is not their own in order to try to gain residence in this country.

"We are aware that a significant proportion of Palestinian and Kuwaiti claims also are from other nationalities.

"This new authorisation will assist the Secretary of State to make decisions in individual Palestinian and Kuwaiti cases, and to ascertain the extent of abuse within these nationalities."

Mr Woolas said the Home Secretary could take a refusal to be tested into account when determining a case.

The new power will be reviewed in April 2010.