UK’s Immigration Points System set to kill off young Migrant WorkersAugust 18th, 2009 by Barry Potier
British companies look set to suffer collateral damage in the government’s rush to demonstrate its credentials as tough on immigration. The switch to a new points based system, meant to bar all but the best and most needed workers from outside the European Union, was being planned long before Gordon Brown controversially threw his weight behind British jobs for British Workers two years ago.
Indeed, the government has sought to take a more hard line approach since the 2005 election, drawing up a working visa regime that was straightforward and objective about whom it allowed into the country. Despite that gestation period, leading immigration specialists argue that the system was rushed into existence last year, largely for political reasons.
The new points-based system has five tiers whereby only non EU citizens who score a certain number of points will be allowed in within the following categories:-
Tier 1 People looking for highly-skilled employment in the UK, entrepreneurs looking to buy businesses or to make substantial investments
Tier 2 Skilled workers who have a job offer from a licensed company or organisation, they must be coming to work in jobs that the UK is finding it difficult to fill domestically; includes the transfer of overseas workers by multinational companies with a UK base
Tier 3 Lower-skilled workers – suspended until shortages emerge
Tier 4 People aged over 15 who want to study
Tier 5 Limited number of temporary workers ranging from sportspeople and charity workers to those in government authorised programmes and those coming under international agreements
While lawyers and business groups praise the UK Borders Agency for reacting to problems, particularly in the past few months, some have also criticised the government for not heeding earlier warnings on potential pitfalls.
There are also complaints at why the government needed to take such a rigid approach to big business when the new measures were primarily aimed at soothing the electorate’s fears on competition for jobs from low-skilled overseas workers or unscrupulous companies cheating the system.
Other complaints centre on the fact companies must now “self-certify” overseas employees, leaving them potentially liable for oversights in their applications or the behaviour of recruits – they are, for example, required to update immigration officials whenever a mobile phone number is changed.
The rigid “box-ticking” approach for companies is, lawyers say, working well for straightforward applications but is far less able to cope with anomalies. These crop up regularly and were dealt with well by the previous work permit system, in which applications were assigned to a case worker empowered to consider unusual circumstances.
Indeed, a reason the government was keen to enforce the changes was that the system, while rigidly objective, would be less open to abuse, cutting the number of non EU worker categories from 83 to five.
But after intense lobbying by business, it is expected to report on Wednesday 19th August that transfers should continue to be allowed. It may seek guarantees, however, that workers do not then seek to settle in the UK. The committee will also announce whether more professions are to be made off limits to non EU workers because of the recession.
What are your views? are you for British Jobs for British Workers at all costs or will this simply do more harm than good? please let us know your thoughts.