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Gov initiative to tighten border controls

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Home secretary Charles Clarke has unveiled plans to capture biometric data and conduct e-assessments of migrant workers.

The government's points based immigration system will incorporate an online self assessment portal, according to plans outlined on 7 March 2006.

Visa and work permit applicants will complete self assessment tests "online wherever possible" before getting in touch with immigration officials, the Home Office plan says. The online self assessment would only cover the initial stages of an application. It would ask basic questions such as the purpose of a visit to the UK, the length of intended stay, qualifications held and work experience gained.

The proposed new immigration programme will also link with other key IT initiatives such as e-Borders and moves to expand the use of biometric technology. Workers coming to the UK from outside the EU could have biometric data stored in order to identify them and ensure they return at the end of their stay. Biometrics will be introduced at various stages.

In a move to be introduced this year, people applying for visas will have to submit biometrics. Also in the plans, those successfully taking up residence would be issued with a biometric residence permit and electronic embarkation checks would be introduced. The system would also allow employers to carry out checks periodically after recruitment.

Home secretary Charles Clarke said: "This new scheme fits alongside other activity being undertaking to tighten up our immigration procedures. We are implementing new technology through the e-Borders programme to record simply and effectively details of passengers intending to enter or leave the UK before they begin their journey, and by the end of 2006 we will begin to require individuals applying for visas to be fingerprinted."

Overall, the new regime makes it more difficult for low skilled workers from countries outside the EU to come to the UK. Immigrants are classified according to four tiers: highly skilled – doctors, IT specialists, finance experts; skilled workers such as nurses and teachers; low skilled people granted entry to fill vacancies for specific periods; and students and special sectors such as employees of multinational companies based in the UK.

The scheme is expected to be in place by mid 2007 at the earliest.

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

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