But in a speech later, the prime minister will also say the country will "always be open to the best and brightest from around the world".
He will argue the government has a "sober, comprehensive and effective plan to cut immigration".
Labour accused ministers of "not delivering" on immigration.
Ministers have introduced tighter caps on the number of non-EU migrants, saying the government wants to cut the overall limit from about 200,000 to "tens of thousands" by 2015.
This is being split into monthly allocations, with a total of 4,200 available for April and 1,500 each month after that.'Bogus colleges'
Non-European Union workers earning more than £150,000 a year are to be excluded from the cap.
Scientists will also be given "a significant advantage" in coming to the UK, as firms attempt to fill jobs where there are staff shortages.
In a speech outlining the government's policy, Mr Cameron will say: "What we don't want is for this to be a hugely attractive destination for people who only want a passage to Britain.
"So we are cracking down on the abuses of the system."
He will promise to tackle "bogus colleges, providing bogus qualifications as cover for bogus visas".Continue reading the main story
He has made very big promises about the level of net migration he will achieve - but he hasn't set out workable, transparent policies to deliver it”End Quote Yvette Cooper Shadow home secretary Mr Cameron will call for a "sober" debate, which is "clear-headed about not only the benefits of immigration but also its impact on our public services, communities and society".
He will add: "This time last year, we said we would listen to people's concerns and get immigration under control.
"Today I can confidently say that we are getting there.
"If we take the steps set out today, and deal with all the different avenues of migration, legal and illegal, then levels of immigration can return to where they were in the 1980s and 90s, a time when immigration was not a front-rank political issue.
"And I believe that will mean net migration to this country will be in the order of tens of thousands each year, not the hundreds of thousands every year that we have seen over the last decade.
"Yes, Britain will always be open to the best and brightest from around the world and those fleeing persecution.
"But with us, our borders will be under control and immigration will be at levels our country can manage.
"No ifs. No buts. That's a promise we made to the British people. And it's a promise we are keeping."
But Labour shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper accused the prime minister of "not being straight with people".
Ms Cooper said: "His two flagship policies were the immigration cap and a UK Border Police Force.
"Yet the cap only applies to 20% of non-EU migrants, and instead of creating a border police he has cut the UK Border Agency by 5,000 staff.
"And whilst he is cutting one set of student visas, he is simply expanding another - student visitor visas - which he won't count in the net migration figures.
"He has made very big promises about the level of net migration he will achieve - but he hasn't set out workable, transparent policies to deliver it."
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