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News ->New Immigration System to decide who works in the UK

(7 March 2006)

New immigration system to decide who works in the UKA new points based system to enable the UK to control migration more effectively, tackle abuse and identify the most talented workers was launched by the Home Secretary today. The points based system is to ensure that only those who benefit Britain can come here to work or study; to strengthen the UK's borders; to crack down on abuse and illegal immigration; and increase removals.

The scheme will be complemented with a tougher approach from our own British embassies abroad to weed out false applications and will place increased obligations on UK businesses and universities who will now be required to sponsor migrants and help to ensure that those they sponsor adhere to the terms of their visa.

Key elements of the system include:

* consolidating more than 80 existing work and study routes into five tiers:
tier 1 - highly skilled, e.g. scientists or entrepreneurs;
tier 2 - skilled workers with a job offer, e.g. nurses, teachers, engineers;
tier 3 - low skilled workers filling specific temporary labour shortages, e.g. construction workers for a particular project
tier 4 - students; and
tier 5 - youth mobility and temporary workers, e.g. working holiday makers or musicians coming to play a concert.

* points to be awarded to reflect aptitude, experience, age and also the level of need in any given sector, to allow the UK to respond flexibly to changes in the labour market;

* the establishment of a Skills Advisory Body to identify these shortages;

* consolidating entry clearance and work permit applications into one transparent single-stage application;

* a system of sponsorship by employers and educational institutions to ensure compliance;

* financial securities for specific categories where there has been evidence of abuse to ensure that migrants return home at the end of their stay; and

* the ending of employment routes to the UK for low-skilled workers from outside the EU except in cases of short-term shortages.

Home Secretary Charles Clarke said: "Managed migration is in the interest of the UK. Today's announcement sets out the Government's policy to deliver a firm but fair, simpler, more transparent and more rigorous system, which will benefit our economy and protect our borders.

"Crucially, it will allow us to ensure that only those people with the skills the UK needs come to this country while preventing those without these skills applying. Foreign workers or students will also in future need a UK sponsor to vouch for them, ensuring that businesses and colleges take responsibility for making sure foreign workers and students comply with visa rules.

"This new scheme fits alongside other activity being undertaking to tighten up our immigration procedures. We are implementing new technology through the e-borders programme to record simply and effectively details of passengers intending to enter or leave the UK before they begin their journey, and by the end of 2006 we will begin to require individuals applying for visas to be fingerprinted."

Proposals for a points-based system for managed migration are a key element of the Home Office's five year strategy for asylum and immigration 'Controlling our borders: making migration work for Britain' published in February 2005. The Government undertook an extensive consultation on the proposals between July and November 2005.

The system aims to ensure that only those migrants who benefit the UK - for example the highly-skilled such as surgeons or scientists or those who are coming to fill gaps in the labour market that cannot be met from the domestic workforce such as teachers and nurses, can come to work or study, while introducing new measures to ensure that migrants comply with their leave to remain and go home at the end of their stay.

The UK will benefit from increased economic and international competitiveness and cultural exchange.

Also included in today's announcement are decisions by:

* the Department of Health to end the existing immigration routes for postgraduate doctors and dentists, except for those people who have studied for their degrees in the UK. This reflects the flexibility of our managed migration systems to ensure we meet the needs of the UK labour market; and

* the Home Office to end existing low-skilled work routes including the Sectors Based Scheme and the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme, again reflecting the fact that labour from the new EU Member States is now filling many vacancies in these areas.

Habib Rahman, Chief Executive of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, said: “We welcome the Government’s acknowledgement of the positive economic contribution of migrants and recognise the positive intention behind the points system to restore public confidence in the immigration system and ensure migrants are welcome in the UK

“However denying all possibility of settling in the UK to lower skilled and unskilled migrant workers could create a workforce ripe for abuse by exploitative employers. Temporary workers have fewer employment rights in any case. Temporary settlement rights will be a double whammy ensuring a whole group of workers are unable to seek remedy for abuse they suffer. Some may have to enter the irregular employment sector to escape such abuse. Such factors could drive down employment conditions for everyone

“We should also recognise that migrant workers who send money home are keeping families and towns some parts of the developing world going. The points system will make it much harder for a group of workers and the families they support at home to find a route out of poverty through migration because the return on their investment in migration will be much reduced. The Government says it is committed to Making Poverty History in the developing world – how is making migration harder for people from those countries going to help that? "


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