Brain Food: Workplace rights - Migrant skills ranked

The most radical overhaul of the UK's immigration system for decades is under way. An Australian-style points system for migrants from outside the EU, comprising five separate tiers, will replace the current work-permit scheme. 'Top-tier' immigrants - those with the best experience, qualifications and potential - will be free to work for any employer or to set up their own business. The next tier down will be skilled workers, who will need an employer's sponsorship to qualify for entry. Employers failing to keep the Home Office informed about sponsored individuals will be deemed 'bad' sponsors and will find it harder to get permission to employ foreign nationals. The third tier will be low-skilled workers, permitted to enter only for a strictly limited period and purpose, while the two lowest strata will cover students and foreign citizens arriving for a working holiday. The new system, designed to attract the 'brightest and the best' to settle and work in Britain, is likely to be operational within two years. Meanwhile, employers should beware tougher penalties introduced by the new Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act - including on-the-spot fines of up to £2,000 for employing an illegal worker, and potential imprisonment for doing so deliberately.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Michael Burd and James Davies, Lewis Silkin solicitors, e-mail:

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