The UK releases migration consultation document

The UK has released a managed migration consultation document. Click on the PDF file to view the consultation document in its entirety as released by the UK Home Office. Consultation document (PDF format)

The new scheme, to be introduced next spring, includes a five-tier point system for migrants, ranging from easy access and full residence rights for the most highly skilled and those with large sums to invest. Only the top two tiers of workers will be allowed to bring families or have the chance to settle in Britain after five years.

The scheme calls for temporary entry permits for low-skilled workers without their families, although this is similar to what already exists, and biometric residence permits for all foreign migrant workers without which they cannot work or access government services.

While some have praised the government's efforts at creating wide-scale immigration reform, the Trade Union Congress (TUC), the largest trade union forum with over seven million members, says the proposed system is neglecting the rights of migrant workers and treating them like "sheep".

Nick Clark, policy officer of the TUC, says the consultation process launched by the Home Office is failing to tackle some of the more fundamental concepts such as protecting the rights of migrant workers.

"Migrant workers are permitted to stick around only for as long as they are useful in whatever niche within the economy they have been allocated to," says Don Flynn of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI). "And once that has come to the end, there will be sufficient measures in place in order to ensure that the migrant workers are made to pack their bags and leave."

The government is also planning to introduce "green card-style" monthly auctions of work permits in non-shortage areas with companies that make the highest bids able to employ the migrant workers.

At the launch, the immigration minister pointed out the transformed system would "ensure Britain attracts the skilled labour force it needs" and aims to ensure that "those who can contribute most to the UK are selected for entry." Contrary to the current system, a migrant worker will be granted a permit depending on the level of his skills.

The more skills a worker has, the more points he will gain and consequently the more likely he will obtain a UK visa.

As a result, applicants possessing occupations such as doctors, engineers and IT specialists are categorised in "Tier 1" level and with their high skills they have more chances of gaining permanent stay as they are viewed as more contributory to the British economy.

"Low-skilled" workers in agriculture and hospitality will be classified in Tier 3 level and will have to find an employer to sponsor them and so have less chances of being allowed into the country.

Clark called the current migration system discriminatory, and said that with the proposed point scheme, the problems will be "compounded for people of different legal status" and it will simply filter out the more wealthy candidates.