Immigration Points Scheme Launched

A new points system for immigrants has come into force in the UK today.

The first tier of the five-tier scheme, which is similar to the one used in Australia, applies only to highly skilled workers who want to work in the UK and it will be the first to be implemented.

Tier 2, which covers skilled workers with a job offer and Tier 5, covering temporary workers such as musicians, actors and sportsmen will both come into effect in the third quarter of 2008, while Tier 4, which covers students, will come into effect at the beginning of next year.

Tier 3, which covers low skilled routes, will only be used if specific shortages are identified that cannot be filled from the UK or European work force.

The scheme will effectively prevent low skilled workers from outside the European Union from coming to the UK.

A licensing scheme for employers who want to recruit workers from overseas will also come into effect from the autumn.

Employers who recruit illegal workers will also now face fines of up to £10,000 for each illegal employee, while those who are found to have knowingly hired illegal workers could face an unlimited fine and a prison sentence.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said: "The introduction of our Australian-style points system will ensure that only those with skills the country needs can come.

"Migrants benefit this country economically, contributing an estimated £6 billion to our national output, as well as socially and culturally and it is right that we have a system which is fair but firm, accessible but controlled.

"Today's proposals are part of the biggest changes to British immigration policy in a generation which include a new deal for those migrants seeking citizenship here, a new UK Border Agency to strengthen controls at the border and the introduction of ID cards for foreign nationals."

Conservatives have called for an annual limit to be introduced on immigration.


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