Tourist visas for visitors to the UK are are to be cut from six to three months under new government proposals to be announced this week.
The government may introduce special occasion visas for events such as the London Olympics in 2012.
UK families may also be forced to sponsor relatives visiting from outside the EU by paying a cash bond. If the relatives do not return home, they will lose the money.
The proposals aim to tackle illegal workers in the UK. They will be set out in a consultation document by immigration minister Liam Byrne.
Campaigners said the plan was “unfair” on poorer families, while the Tories attacked it as a “headline grabbing gimmick”.