Study: UK points based immigration system needs improvement

A report by the National Audit Office (NAO) finds that the UK's points based system is not delivering its full "value for money potential". The study also found that, while adaptable, the system needs to improve customer service and its management information processes.

"Implementing the radical changes planned for the System in 2011-12 will enable the Agency to reconsider its priorities and improve customer service and its assurance over control systems," said Amyas Morse, head of NAO.

The points based system is divided into a number of tiers that cover all economic immigration routes, including highly skilled immigration and employer sponsored immigration. The system is similar in some respects to Australia's successful points based immigration program.

"The Points Based System introduced by the UK Border Agency in 2008 was for the most part designed well and provides an adaptable means of meeting the UKs work-related immigration policy objectives," NAO said in a release.

"However, according to the National Audit Office, the System is not yet delivering its full potential for value for money. Its processes and systems are not efficient and customer service could be improved," they added.

NAO said that the points based system meets the needs of UK employers for the most part. However, they noted that one in three UK companies surveyed said that they wanted to recruit more skilled foreign workers than they were allowed to.

Employers and organization who sponsor immigrant workers felt that the UK Border Agency does not provide all the necessary information and assistance that they need; one-fifth of employers said they were willing to pay an additional fee to get better customer service.

NAO also said the the UK Border Agency needs to improve its management information systems to better track people with expired visas and make sure they leave the UK.