New UK immigration 'points' plan

Home Secretary Charles Clarke has defended plans for a new points-based immigration system for workers who want to come to the UK from outside the EU.
The scheme is designed to make it easier for highly skilled, younger workers to enter the country.

But it will be harder for low-skilled, non-EU workers to head to Britain.

Mr Clarke says the system will simplify immigration. But Tory Damian Green says the scheme is an "implicit admission that the current system has failed".

"The government has no control over our borders and no proper information about the most basic facts and figures," the shadow immigration minister said.

Highly skilled workers such as doctors, engineers and IT experts would get the most points under the system, due in place from mid-2007 at the earliest. They will be the only group able to come to Britain without a job offer. But skilled workers, like nurses, teachers and plumbers, would be able to come to the UK if they can plug shortages in the workforce.

A person applying as a low-skilled worker would be granted entry to fill specific job vacancies for fixed periods, with guarantees that they will leave at the end of their stay.

Other applicants would include students and special sectors such as sports people and employees of international companies based in the UK, plus visiting workers - such as musicians or those on working holiday visas.

Low-skilled workers, students and visitors would only be allowed entry if their home country has a formal agreement with Britain.

Danny Sriskandarajah, from the Institute for Public Policy Research, said the scheme would only work if it was flexible enough to find the right workers for the right jobs.

Habib Rahman, chief executive of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, said it could lead to unskilled migrants being exploited.

Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migrationwatch UK, said the scheme would not quell public concern about immigration as it imposed no annual limit on the number of people able to settle in the UK.

Source: BBC (English)

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