Migrants will be questioned about their English language skills before being able to claim income-related benefits.
The government said a “more robust” test is being rolled out at jobcentres across Wales, England and Scotland this week.
In order to pass a habitual residence test, migrants will have to answer more individually tailored questions, provide more detailed answers, and submit more evidence before they will be allowed to make a claim.
For the first time migrants will be quizzed about what efforts they have made to find work before coming to the UK and whether their English language skills will be a barrier to them finding employment.
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith said: “It is vitally important that we have strict rules in place to protect the integrity of our benefits system.
“The British public are rightly concerned that migrants should contribute to this country and not be drawn here by the attractiveness of our benefits system. And we are taking action to ensure that that is the case.
“The roll-out of the new habitual residence test is the first in a series of measures to ensure that we have a fair system: one which provides support for genuine workers and jobseekers, but does not allow people to come to our country and take advantage. It is a crucial part of our long-term plan to secure Britain’s economy.”
However, the move has come under-fire by EU officials.
An EU diplomat told the Telegraph: “It seems the government wants to step up the fight. I hope Mr Duncan Smith has good lawyers or Britain could be paying some big fines.
“Discriminating against people on the basis of language would be illegal.”
The new test will apply to any migrant (including British nationals returning from a period living or working abroad) who has a face-to-face interview at the new claim stage at Jobcentre Plus.
It was originally introduced in 1994 to protect the benefit system from abuse. The aim was to ensure that income-related benefits are paid to people with reasonably close ties to the UK and an intention to settle here.
The Department for Work and Pensions say new test will be in line with EU law.
How the new test will work
The improved habitual residence test will see the bank of available questions increase by more than 100, while the intelligent IT system will ensure that the number and type of questions asked are tailored to each individual claimant and their personal circumstances.
Migrants wanting to claim benefits will have to provide more comprehensive evidence at the point of their claim.
This might include what measures they have taken to establish themselves in the UK by looking at their housing and family situation or by looking at what ties they still have abroad.
They will also have to provide more evidence that they are doing everything they can to find a job.
In order to pass the improved habitual residence test, migrants will have to answer more individually-tailored questions, provide more detailed answers and submit more evidence before they will be allowed to make a claim.
For the first time, migrants will be quizzed about what efforts they have made to find work before coming to the UK and whether their English language skills will be a barrier to them finding employment.