New points based system begins

Details of Britain's new Australian-style points based immigration system (PBS) were announced today as the Government published the rules for highly skilled foreign workers applying to come to the UK.

The regulations will start coming into force on 29 February when any highly skilled foreign nationals currently working in Britain who want to extend their stay will need to apply under the new system. In April, the new system will begin to be rolled out overseas when anyone from India who wants to work in the UK as a highly skilled migrant will need to apply under PBS. By the summer the new highly skilled system will operate worldwide.

Speaking from Delhi during a visit to discuss how PBS will work with the Indian Government, Borders and Immigration Minister Liam Byrne said:

"Our points system is starting on time and on plan. I've no problem with taking the best systems in the world, like Australia's points system, and bringing them to the UK. This is a key part of the huge shake-up to our border security this year."

"The points system means only those migrants Britain needs can come to the UK. We know that migrants contributed to our economy to the tune of £6 billion to GDP in 2006. A strong system for highly skilled migrants is vital to Britain winning these benefits because these migrants are well-educated and pay lots of tax."

"We want India to come first because India is Britain's most important market for highly skilled migrants."

The Highly Skilled tier 1 will build upon the success of the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme by continuing to attract the most talented people with the skills the UK needs to remain a global leader in the fields of finance, business, and technological innovation.

The announcement follows the completion in January of the Border and Immigration Agency's global rollout of fingerprinting for all visas three months early. Now every person in the world coming to the UK on a visa has their fingerprints taken and their details checked against watch-lists – if they're on the list for the wrong reason they can't come in and could be banned from applying to come again for up to 10 years.