UK Home Secretary announces changes to work permit scheme

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David Blunkett's speech to Labour Party Conference - 3rd October 2001 - contained the following points:

  • New radical improved policy on immigration and asylum
  • Development of work permit system which allows people to enter and work freely
  • Develop 'fast track' entry routes for those with high skills
  • Students to be able to stay while application is being made
  • Updated seasonal worker programme

Detailed changes will be announced to the House Of Commons by the end of the month - an update will be provided on these pages

[Update 29th October 2001]

The Home Office released the following statement today...

"An essential plank of a coherent migration policy is that the UK must have legal avenues of migration for those whose skills it needs. A new scheme - the Highly Skilled Migrant Entry Programme - will allow those with exceptional skills to apply to come to the UK to seek work. Further details will be announced in November. Also, the Immigration rules will be changed to allow those graduates completing a degree from UK universities to stay on in the UK if they obtain a work permit. Discretion is already exercised in a substantial number of cases.

The Home Secretary will separately explore with employers and trade unions the case for expanding the work permit system to deal with pressures in sectors of the economy where there are skill shortages and a need for temporary workers for seasonal employment. Proposals will be developed in next year's White Paper. Alongside this work, a cross-departmental Ministerial Group - chaired by Lord Rooker, Minister of State at the Home Office - will examine ways of toughening up action across Government to tackle illegal employment and the exploitation of those who are in the UK illegally."

Further update expected later in November.