Record level of UK work permits issued

More than 151,000 overseas nationals from outside the EU were granted permission to work: almost four times the level when Labor took power in 1997.

It was announced to MPs that 151,635 work visa applications were granted between December 2007 and November last year.

The greatest numbers of visas were issued to enable to following nationalities to work in the UK

  • Indians: 49,950
  • Americans: 28,835
  • Chinese Nationals: 8,090

Many migrants were granted visas in categories that allow them to remain in the UK for up to five years. At the end of five years as long as they meet the requirements migrants can then apply for indefinite leave to remain (permanent residence).

The Home Office has made the following comments:

"Over 90 per cent of people working in this country are UK citizens and their rate of employment has remained stable."

"But when it comes to immigration, in difficult economic times we need a tough system that offers British workers the first crack of the whip for British jobs."

"That's why we're using the flexibility that the new Points Based System allows to force employers to offer British jobs through Job Centre plus before recruiting foreign workers. And across Government we're working together to get people the skills needed for these jobs to boost their chances even further."

There is some controversy over this with some groups commenting that despite 1.34 million more people in work than in 2001 most of the new jobs have gone to immigrants. It should also be said that until quite recently the UK has had a very successful economy. Immigration is one of the main reasons why the UK has prospered in recent years. 500,000 more Eastern Europeans and hundreds of thousands more Indians have made huge contributions to the economy and society as a whole.