Only 4875 businesses registered as sponsors

But the tough new Australian-style points system brings joy to the authorities

29 December 2008. The UK Border Agency (UKBA) has proudly announced that 4,875 businesses have registered as sponsors.

The new system ensures only those skilled migrant workers the country needs can come to the UK – and no more. It introduces tough criteria that mean employers must prove a resident worker doesn’t want the job before offering it to a foreign worker and it is flexible – meaning the bar can be raised or lowered according to the needs of the labour market and the country as a whole.

Border and Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said:
"The points system is one of the most radical changes we’ve made to theimmigration system in a generation and today’s figures show that it isbeing delivered successfully.

"It is crucial that only those foreign workers we need come here andthis new system will ensure that – we already know that there wouldhave been a 12 per cent reduction in the numbers coming here throughthe equivalent work permit had the system been in place last year."

Before a British business can bring in a foreign worker, they must apply to the UK Border Agency to become a registered sponsor. If the agency is satisfied that they are reputable and willing to take responsibility for any foreign workers they employ, they will be given a sponsor licence – so far 4,875 businesses have passed the test.

Under the system for skilled and temporary workers – Tiers 2 and 5 – would-be migrants need a job offer before they even apply for a visa, unless the job is on the shortage occupation list.

To get in under Tier 2 skilled foreign workers must have:
* English language skills;
* prospective earnings of more than £24,000, or slightly less if they have a decent qualification – or an offer of a job on the shortage list; and
* enough money to support themselves for the first month of their stay. For any employer who breaks the rules and employs foreign nationals who have no right to work in the UK, the outcome is clear – huge fines are already being handed out by the UK Border Agency. This year’s much tougher enforcement campaign has already issued over 1,000 fines worth around £10 million.

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