UK skilled immigration to increase under new system

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According to the Economic Times of India, a UK Minister of Parliament stated that the number of highly skilled migrants entering the United Kingdom will increase under the new Tier 1 (General) points based system, contrary to public perceptions.

Keith Vaz, Labour MP for Leicester East, said that the United Kingdom's points based sytem is superior to how the United States imports top talent from around the world. Unlike the United States H-1B program, the UK Tier 1 (General) scheme has no quota.

"There is a wrong perception that the new system will cap the number of migrants, but that's totally untrue," Vaz said.

"Maybe we need to publicize the system more," he added.

Tier 1 (General) is part of the UK's new five-tier points based system. Tier 1 (General) assesses applicants based on criteria such as age, past earnings, education, and English language ability. It replaced the previous Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP).

Vaz was in India leading an inquiry committee on how Tier 1 (General) was working since being introduced on 01 April 2008. India was the first nation where the new system was introduced.

Vaz state that the new system needed to be open and fair and that the government should not change the rules unexpectedly.

In late 2006, changes to the previous HSMP that resulted in a more difficult points test were applied retrospectively to highly skilled migrants seeking to renew their visa. The changes caused an outcry among HSMP visa holders and ultimately resulted in a High Court judgment against the UK Border Agency.

The judgment required the government to allow affected migrants to reapply for their visa under the rules in place when their visa was initially approved.