Priti Patel is to get new powers to withhold or reject visas from countries that refuse to take back failed asylum seekers or illegal migrants.
The Home Secretary will be able to “suspend, delay or declare invalid” visa applications from countries which refuse to accept back their own citizens who have been denied the right to remain in the UK.
She could also increase the charges for visa applications to work, study or longer-term stays in the UK as punishment for a country failing to accept asylum applicants or illegal migrants from the UK.
The proposed powers are contained in the Nationality and Borders Bill, laid before Parliament on Tuesday, and are targeted at any country that does not “cooperate with the UK Government in relation to the removal of [their] nationals” who do not have leave to enter or remain in the UK.
Government sources said the new powers would be used to “incentivise” an uncooperative foreign state, despite the risk of provoking a major diplomatic row.
The measures are designed to make it easier to remove failed claimants, and are part of a plan that will deny asylum seekers who enter the UK illegally the same rights to remain in the UK as those refugees who come to the UK via legitimate official schemes.
The move follows a continued surge in Channel migrants, with a record 2,000 in June alone and a doubling to 6,000 reaching the UK in the first six months of this year, compared with the same period last year.
More than 600 arrived in the UK in the first four days of this month alone.
Immigration officers will get powers to issue priority removal notices to anyone the Government is seeking to deport, giving them a set time in which to submit any final legal claims and prevent them delaying their deportation with multiple last-minute court actions.
They will also be restricted to no more than seven hours of state-funded civil legal services in order to pursue any final claim.
Any migrants who have reached Britain through “safe” states such as France, Italy, Spain and Germany will be removed back to those countries.
Ministers have yet to agree bilateral deals with any EU countries to accept back migrants who travelled through them. In the absence of any deals, none have been sent back since Brexit when the previous EU-wide Dublin agreement with the UK to accept returns lapsed.
The Bill will, however, change the law to allow asylum seekers’ applications to be processed in a third country, to further deter migrants choosing the UK.
Border Force officers will also get new powers to stop, board, divert and detain migrants at sea and return them to the country from which they came. They will be allowed to use “reasonable force” to do so.
Under the Bill, the Government will also set up an age assessment board to detect adult migrants posing as children, with powers to use “scientific methods” to help establish their true age.
Government officials said no decision had been taken on the methods to be deployed, but would not rule out controversial techniques including dental checks, X-rays and ultrasound.
The move comes despite previous official guidance barring use of dental checks, and warning that scientific methods “can only estimate age and as a consequence there will always be a margin for error”.