Migrants will have to prove they have had job offers in new points-based system

Immigration minister Liam Byrne has said the points-based system that will restrict immigration to the UK will come into force from next year.

Migrant workers

The system is likely to make it harder for construction companies to employ workers from abroad, as migrants will have to prove firm job offers or sponsorship from the UK before seeking migrant status.

From next year, there will be five ‘tiers’ for workers with different levels of skills, replacing the 80 routes of entry into the UK that currently exist. Home Secretary John Reid announced the system last year, but Byrne unveiled the timetable for implementing it this week.

Potential migrants will be awarded points on the basis of aptitude, experience and age as well as the level of demand in the sector. Most migrant construction and engineering workers will be included in the tier for “low skilled workers filling specific temporary labour shortages”, which will be enforced from the third quarter of 2008.

A system of sponsorship by employers to ensure compliance with the immigration rules would also being introduced as part of the new system.

Speaking at a conference in Australia, Byrne said: “A new points-based system will be simpler, clearer and easier to enforce. Crucially it will give us the best way of letting in only those people who have something to offer Britain.”

Ucatt general secretary Alan Ritchie expressed concerns that the system could be open to abuse: "Far more information needs to be supplied by the Home Office before [the rules] come into operation. If workers are to be sponsored then their potential employer must guarantee to directly employ them on industry agreed established wage rates."