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PBS better than visa system it replaced, but still room for improvement


MPs publish report on immigration PBS
17th May 2011: The Points Based System, introduced to manage economic migration from countries  outside the EEA, is better than the visa system it replaced. But there is still a good deal of room for improvement.
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This, by and large, sums up the findings in the MPs publish report on the Immigration Points Based System

The report, published by the Committee of Public Accounts, on the basis of evidence from the Home Office and the UK Border Agency, examines the management of the work routes of the Points Based System for Immigration.

The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, said: "The Points Based System, introduced to manage economic migration from countries  outside the EEA, is better than the visa system it replaced. But there is still a good deal of room for improvement.

“We are concerned at the lack of control of workers entering Britain through the intra-company transfer system. This allows multinationals to transfer their workers to the UK and is not covered by the immigration cap. Most workers enter through this route and, for instance, tens of thousands of IT workers have been brought in through intra-company transfers at a time when UK residents with IT skills are struggling to find work.

“The Agency has not got a grip on making sure that migrant workers whose visas have expired actually leave the UK. It estimates that 181,000 such workers are staying on without permission – but it can’t even verify the figures, and does not try to enforce the employer’s duty to ensure that the people they bring in leave when they are required to do so.
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“The Agency has not exercised proper checks on sponsoring employers. It has visited only one in five of those applying for licences. It does not know how many existing sponsors have been inspected and lacks the information required to take a robust risk-based approach.

“The fundamental point is that the Agency lacks the management information needed to manage migrant numbers and ensure that the rules are complied with. It assures us that its planned new immigration casework system will provide the required information. We will be looking for improved performance once the new system is fully up and running, from 2013."

Margaret Hodge was speaking as the Committee published its 34h Report of this Session.

The Government’s policy is to allow the migration of skilled workers to the UK to support economic growth and better public services. The Home Office has overall responsibility for immigration policy and securing the UK’s border, which it discharges through the UK Border Agency.

The Agency has the hugely difficult task of designing and operating an immigration system which enables the UK to get the skills it needs, while protecting the interests of workers already resident in this country.

This report focuses on how well the Agency has achieved its objectives of an efficient and effective system for managing migration of workers from outside the European Economic Area.

The Agency implemented the Points Based System in 2008, which introduced three main routes for people to come to the UK to work, replacing the previous 39 types of work visa. The system also incorporates a route for students to come to the UK to study, which we do not consider in this report but intend to examine at a later date.

The system works by awarding applicants points based on, for example, their skills, qualifications and salary and requiring them to meet a minimum points threshold. The system is objective, transparent and flexible, as the points required can be modified to respond to changing needs in the UK workforce. Decisions are also reached more quickly than under the previous visa system.

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