The United Kingdom will introduce a points-based immigration system, on the lines of what Australia and New Zealand have, in 2008, British High Commissioner Michael Arthur has told the Hindustan Times.
“A new points-based system is being developed to manage applications to the UK to work, study and train. The aim is to consolidate and simplify the many (80-odd) routes into five tiers. The system will commence with the introduction of tier 1, for highly skilled migrants, in early 2008,” he said.
Applicants will no longer have to apply for a work permit and then visa, Sir Michael stated. They will need “sufficient points” to gain entry clearance to the UK, which will be awarded according to “objective and transparent” criteria like qualification.
“A prospective applicant can conduct a self-assessment online, allowing him/her to identify the most appropriate tier and save cost and time in making the application,” the outgoing high commissioner added.
Sir Michael said there were no plans for a quota to limit the number of Indian nationals entering the UK under the new system. Asked if Indian nationals would be squeezed out of the immigration process, given the preference for people from the European Union(EU), he denied it was a case of preferring people from the EU.
“Citizens of the EU are for the most part able to work without restriction in the UK. Of course, the recent EU expansion has had an impact on labour supply. Indeed, the resident labour market test applied to job vacancies in the UK gives priority to filling posts from UK or EEA (European Economic Area, which is EU plus some Nordic countries) nationals,” he said.
Possibilities for non-EEA nationals to apply for jobs will only arise where “skill shortages” cannot be met by UK or EEA residents, he clarified.
On why the UK had introduced a mandatory system for transit visas for Indian nationals, Sir Michael said that this was done in 2003 to “combat a significant minority abusing the country’s transit-without-visa rules. “These passengers would deliberately obtain a visa for a country where controls on visa issuing were relaxed and arrange for a transit visa via the UK. Once they reached a UK airport, they would destroy their documents and refuse to travel to their claimed final destination.”
Sir Michael made it clear that the UK would not tolerate illegal immigration and rejected the notion that Indian nationals could claim asylum in Britain alleging discrimination in India, a democracy.
He added that Britain was conducting a pilot project to check passenger manifests ahead of travel. “Advanced Passenger Information is not mandatory for the UK at present, but it is being considered… (the) pilot project has successfully identified criminals and smugglers.”