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Immigration

Volume 475: debated on Tuesday 6 May 2008

I am today announcing the next steps in our programme of comprehensive immigration reform for 2008. I am publishing statements of intent which set out how the points system will work for skilled migrants coming to fill vacancies here, and for those who come to the UK temporarily for cultural and other non-economic reasons.

The Points-Based System

The UK’s new points system is central to our plans for controlling the numbers and skills of people coming to the UK, and ensuring only those the UK needs from outside the EEA can come to work or study.

We began the points system earlier this year with arrangements for highly skilled migrants. The statements of intent I am publishing today outline details on how the system will work for skilled and temporary migrants.

These arrangements will significantly reduce the number of routes to the UK and will include five key changes for skilled workers.

First, all employers who wish to employ skilled migrants will need a licence, provided and monitored by the UK Border Agency. This will help ensure employers are fulfilling their obligations to the UK, for example, helping migrants to understand and comply with our immigration rules.

Secondly, migrants will be required to show English language competence to assist with their effectiveness at work and their integration into British life.

Thirdly, all jobs will be required to meet the resident labour market test before a migrant can be recruited unless the job is in a certified shortage occupations or is an intra-company transfer.

Fourthly, all migrants not filling jobs on the shortage occupation list will be required to earn points through their qualifications and prospective earnings.

Fifthly, there will be a maintenance requirement so that would-be migrants must prove they have the ability to support themselves for the first month they are here.

We are publishing the draft points pass mark today. The final points pass mark for the skilled tier of the points system will be informed by the work of the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) on economic needs and that of the Migration Impacts Forum on the wider effects of migration.

The MAC will produce shortage occupation lists for the UK, and Scotland only, showing where there are skilled shortages that can be sensibly filled by migration through the points based system.

Statement of Intent for the Temporary Workers and Youth Mobility Tier (Tier 5).

Tier 5 of the points-based system covers temporary workers and the UK’s new international youth mobility scheme, allowing people to travel to the UK to satisfy primarily non-economic objectives including five sub-categories: creative and sporting; charity workers; religious; Government-authorised exchange; and international agreement.

As with our arrangements for skilled migrants:

All migrants will need a certificate of sponsorship from a licensed sponsor who will vouch that the migrant will comply with the terms of their stay in the UK, before they even arrive in the UK.

Migrants must also meet the maintenance requirements, demonstrating that they can support themselves while they are here in the UK.

The Tier 5 international youth mobility scheme will allow young people from partner nations to come to the United Kingdom for up to two years to work and travel, while young UK nationals enjoy similar experiences in those countries.

We are publishing these documents today so that those affected by the changes we are putting in place can prepare. We are also giving people the opportunity to comment on the documents. A statement of intent for students under the points-based system will follow later this year.

Copies of the statements of intent on the skilled migrant tier and the temporary worker and youth mobility tier have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The documents are also available on the United Kingdom Border Agency’s website at: www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/managingourborders/pbsdocs/.