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UK's 'elitist' immigration rules billed for January

Byrne gets tough on border control

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Home Office minister Liam Byrne has announced he is to introduce "tough new Australian-style" migration controls intended, from January next year, to make it tougher for all but "elite" migrants to get into Britain.

He also opened discussions with Australia, Canada and the US on how technology might make it easier for them to apply.

"With the exception of an elite group of highly skilled migrants all other foreign workers or students will need a UK sponsor to vouch for them and help us make sure they are playing by the rules," Byrne said in a written statement.

He made the announcement while admiring Australia's hard-boiled border controls on an official tour.

He said the UK would spend £20m on officers to patrol British borders.

The new system would award migrants points according to their worth to the UK economy. It would measure their "aptitude, experience, age" and the need different sectors had for skills.

"Crucially it will give us the best way of letting in only those people who have something to offer Britain," he said.

The existing system for vetting immigrants uses a finite set of measures to determine whether they should be given work visas. But Work Permits UK, which administers the work visa system, has had trouble fitting real people into pre-defined categories.

WPUK had to answer to industry recently following fears that British IT workers were being undercut by immigrants employed on work permits on lower salaries. ®

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