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Touchy immigrations plan gains momentum

To be unveiled on Tuesday, it will mean low-skilled workers from countries outside the EU will find it difficult to come to the UK.

india Updated: Mar 07, 2006 19:39 IST

A controversial points-based immigrations system that favours entrepreneurs and those with skills Britain lacks is being published on Tuesday.

The scheme will make it more difficult for low-skilled workers from countries outside the EU to come to the UK.

Similar to the systems in the US and Australia, foreigners will gain points based on their qualifications, skills and work experience. When people reach an agreed threshold of points, they will get their visas.

Home Secretary Charles Clarke will unveil the exact requirements of the new regime on Tuesday. The system is expected to be four-tiered, divided by qualifications, income and other factors. Tier one will include highly skilled migrants including doctors, engineers, IT specialists and finance experts. This will be the only group able to come to Britain without a job offer.

Tier two will be for skilled workers such as nurses, teachers and administrators with NVQ level 3 or qualifications equivalent to A-level. They will be able to come as long as they work in areas where the UK has shortages - though job offers will not guarantee entry.

Tier three includes low-skilled workers who will be granted entry to fill specific job vacancies for fixed periods, with guarantees that they will leave at the end of their stay.

Tier four is for students and special sectors, such as sports people and employees of international companies based in the UK.

Applicants in the third and fourth tiers will be allowed entry only if their home country has a formal agreement with Britain. The Home Office confirmed in December that the scheme would not be in place until mid-2007 at the earliest.

The Immigration Minister Tony McNulty, said at the time, "Doing that, from a standing start to completion in the best part of a year and a half to two years, is actually rather good going, for government."

The Conservative immigration spokesman Damian Green, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme, "In principle, we have been calling for some kind of points system for a long time, so I hope this works. The underlying question is whether this can be delivered effectively.

"There is a long history of headline-grabbing initiatives from the Home Office where they have talked tough on immigration and the delivery doesn't come."

First Published: Mar 07, 2006 19:39 IST