UK Immigration Minister announces timetable for new points-based system

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The United Kingdom's Immigration Minister, Liam Byrne, announced a timetable for the country's new points-based immigration system during a visit to Australia, which uses as similar system.

"Migration has to support Britain's national interests," he said, later adding that the government wanted more robust control of borders but "not a barricade."

The new UK system was first announced by Home Secretary John Reid last year and has had several key features already integrated into immigration policies and legislation. The Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP) already uses a points-based evaluation system.

Applicants under the new system would need to gain a sufficient number of points. Scoring is based upon a balance between the skills of the applicant and skills needed in the UK, as determined by government research and statistics. It is designed to replace more than 80 different routes of entry into the country with a five-tier structure split into different skill levels.

The first tier will become effective from the beginning of 2008 and will be for highly skilled migrants including scientists, doctors, and entrepreneurs. Migrants entering the UK under this tier will not need a job offer.

The following year the second tier will become effective, covering skilled workers such as nurses, teachers and engineers who have job offers in shortage areas.

Tier three will cover low-skilled workers such as one-contract construction workers and catering staff. Migrants in this category will require an employer to sponsor them.

Tier four for students will follow at the beginning of 2009. Students covered under this tier are those paying tuition in the UK. A system of sponsorship by employers and educational institutions to ensure compliance with the immigration rules is being introduced at the beginning of next year.

Tier five will include working holiday makers as well as professional athletes and musicians.

The exact timetable for the new system will be introduced over the course of 2008 - 2009. The first tier for highly skilled migrants will be introduced in early 2008. Following later in the year will be the second, third, and fifth tiers. The tier for students will be introduced in the beginning of 2009.


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