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Points-based migration system is announced

7 March 2006

A new points- based system to enable the UK to control migration more effectively, tackle abuse and identify the most talented workers was launched by the Home Secretary.

The Government's Command Paper on the points-based system for managed migration was published today. The Home Secretary called on industry and education sectors to play their role in making migration work for Britain, and reminded them that they had a responsibility to help make the new scheme a success. 

The points based system is a central part of the Government’s five year strategy for asylum and immigration, which was published in February 2005, and is committed to a wide-ranging plan:

  • to ensure that only those who benefit Britain can come here to work or study
  • to strengthen the UK’s borders; to crack down on abuse and illegal immigration
  • and increase removals. Its implementation is a key Government priority

The scheme will be complemented with a tougher approach from our own British embassies abroad to weed out false applications and will place increased obligations on UK businesses and universities who will now be required to sponsor migrants and help to ensure that those they sponsor adhere to the terms of their visa.


Some of the key elements of the system include:

  • consolidating more than 80 existing work and study routes into five tiers:
    tier 1 - highly skilled, e.g. scientists or entrepreneurs
    tier 2 - skilled workers with a job offer, e.g. nurses, teachers, engineers
    tier 3 - low skilled workers filling specific temporary labour shortages, e.g.  construction workers for a particular project
    tier 4 - students
    tier 5 - youth mobility and temporary workers, e.g. working holiday makers or musicians coming to play a concert
  • points to be awarded to reflect aptitude, experience, age and also the level of need in any given sector, to allow the UK to respond flexibly to changes in the labour market
  • financial securities for specific categories where there has been evidence of abuse to ensure that migrants return home at the end of their stay.


Home Secretary Charles Clarke said:

'Managed migration is in the interest of the UK. Today’s announcement sets out the Government’s policy to deliver a firm but fair, simpler, more transparent and more rigorous system, which will benefit our economy and protect our borders.

'Crucially, it will allow us to ensure that only those people with the skills the UK needs come to this country while preventing those without these skills applying. Foreign workers or students will also in future need a UK sponsor to vouch for them, ensuring that businesses and colleges take responsibility for making sure foreign workers and students comply with visa rules.'

More information

The Regulatory Impact Assessment A points-based system: making migration work for Britain
The Command Paper A points-based system - making migration work for Britain
A paper entitled Employers' use of migrant labour is available on the Research, Development and Statistics website. 
Written Ministerial Statement by the Home Secretary (new window) is available on the Home Office Press website.

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