New measures to “raise the bar” for foreign workers who want to work in the UK, , were unveiled by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith this weekend.
The Government is also considering imposing new curbs on the families of migrant workers coming into Britain, Jacqui Smith said in an interview on BBC television.
The Migration Advisory Committee has been ordered to look at the impact that the dependants of immigrants from outside the EU were having on the economy.
“There are all sorts of questions that we might want to ask here – their access to the labour market, the extent to which they as well as the people that they are coming with need to demonstrate the contribution that they are going to make to the UK economy,” she told BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show.
“I haven’t made a decision on that yet. It is important that we base that on evidence and that’s why I have asked the Migration Advisory Committee to do that work.”
Jacqui Smith will use the flexibility built into the points-based system (PBS) to respond to changing economic circumstances to help British workers through the hard times of the recession.
Three significant changes to “support British workers” are to be introduced on1 April:
- strengthen the resident labour market test for tier 2 skilled jobs so that employers must advertise jobs to resident workers through JobCentre Plus before they can bring in a worker from outside Europe
- use each shortage occupation list to trigger skills reviews that focus on up-skilling resident workers for these occupations, which will make the United Kingdom less dependent on migration for the future
- tighten new criteria against which highly skilled migrants seeking entry to the United Kingdom are judged, by raising the qualifications and salary required for tier 1 of the PBS to a Master’s degree and a minimum salary of £20,000
Jacqui Smith said:
“All workers now coming to the UK from outside Europe have to meet the requirements of the Australian-style points system, which allows us to raise or lower the bar on who can come here.
“We have always said it is important to be selective about who comes here to work, and we have already put a stop to low-skilled labour entering the UK from outside Europe.
“Just as in a growth period we needed migrants to support growth, it is right in a downturn to be more selective about the skill levels of those migrants, and to do more to put British workers first.
“These measures are not about narrow protectionism – a flexible immigration system, rather than an arbitrary cap, is better for British business and the British economy. We recognise that migration continues to play an important role in the UK, at the same time as we are giving greater support to domestic workers so that we can all come through the recession stronger.
“Given the economic circumstances and the action we are taking to be more selective, I expect the number of migrants coming to the UK from outside the EEA to fall during the next financial year. Today I am also asking the independent Migration Advisory Committee, led by David Metcalf, to consider further changes to the way in which foreign workers are currently able to enter the UK to work.
“By being more selective, as well as through tough enforcement measures to tackle illegal immigration, I have tasked the UK Border Agency with delivering this reduction. I have also set out 10 further immigration milestones for the UK Border Agency to meet this year.”
UK Border Agencies 10 milestones:
- March – open a new immigration removal centre to help remove immigration offenders
- April – use our points system to ensure migration matches the country’s needs in hard times
- April – start charging migrants to create a multimillion pound fund to reduce the impacts of migration on local services
- April – introduce new technology to help detect drugs and other illegal goods;
- May – be tougher on European criminals, removing European nationals who cause harm to our communities
- July – start tough new visa controls, which will cover five countries;
- August – have completed delivery of new facial recognition technology in 10 terminals, giving British passengers a faster, secure route through the border
- November – issue 75,000 compulsory identity cards to foreign nationals
- December – hit target to screen 120 million passengers entering and leaving the UK against security watch-lists, and introduce a new high-tech security centre
- December – deport a record number of foreign prisoners
These 10 pledges will build on the work already undertaken by the UK Border Agency to strengthen the country’s immigration controls the announcement stated.
Full announcement – http://ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/newsarticles/migrantworkerstoughertest