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UK immigration: public opinion needed

The UK public is being consulted about a new, proposed immigration system. Legislation going through Parliament will create a points-based entry system with five "tiers" of immigration.

The "tiers", or levels, of immigration, are as follows:

Highly-skilled workers
Skilled workers
Low-skilled workers

The highly skilled or those with their skills most in need, should find it easier to come to the UK. This is actually already the case, through the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme. The UK government says the five levels will replace the current "complex alternatives" to gaining entry to the UK, although citizens of other EU states would be allowed to come and go as they please under the free market rules which also allow British citizens to do the same. Only workers in the top two tiers - skilled and highly skilled workers would be allowed to seek permanent residence in the UK, and then only after five years. They would be awarded a certain level of points to receive the title "skilled" or "highly skilled," but how these points would be awarded is yet to be decided.

Immigration Minister Tony McNulty said he wanted to hear the views of employers, educational institutions, prospective migrants and the public over the coming four months.

The Home Office is not expected to start using the points system until at least the middle of 2006.