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English and skill tests for non EU immigrants to UK

Wednesday, December 5th 2007 - 20:00 UTC
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Jacqui Smith announced tougher regulations for UK immigrants Jacqui Smith announced tougher regulations for UK immigrants

Unskilled workers from countries outside the European Union will no longer be allowed to work in the UK under new immigration rules that the government says represent the “biggest change to the immigration system in its history”.

In a speech Wednesday afternoon at the London Stock Exchange, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, outlined the government's new points-based system, due to come into effect in just under 100 days' time. The speech emphasised measures designed to boost integration and shore up British identity within the points-based system. "I believe the benefits of migration - benefits that we all share in - should be underpinned by the robustness of the systems that we have in place to regulate it, and by the expectations we have of those who come to Britain to work, to live, and to build a better life for themselves" said Smith. Her speech also made mention of the government's controversial plan to introduce ID cards, a sign that the recent loss of two CDs detailing the private information about British citizens has not weakened the government's resolve in this matter. Her speech followed on from comments made this morning by a junior Home Office minister, Liam Byrne, that the points-based system would in effect bar low-skilled workers from outside the EU. Last year some 12,000 non-EU unskilled workers came to the UK. Byrne said that there had been moves to include unskilled workers in the points-based system but that they had been shelved for the "foreseeable future". He envisaged that this would anger some industries that relied on cheap labour but said that he was not going to let government policy be driven by these industries. When the points-based system was first announced two years ago it was expected to lead to low-skilled jobs being filled by EU immigrants but since then some industries have expressed concern that they might not be able to fill all jobs with EU workers. Byrne also announced consultation on two other immigration proposals. The government would like to require non-British fiancés who wish to marry a British citizen to sit an English test. It would also like to increase the minimum age at which someone can enter into an arranged marriage from 18 to 21. The consultation on these proposals is open till February 27. Currently 40,000 foreigners are allowed into the UK each year as a spouse or fiancé. Home Office ministers believe the new English test would give new arrivals a "flying start". English tests were introduced for foreigners taking British citizenship in November 2005 and were extended to those seeking settlement in April this year. Widening the scope to spouses is expected to have a particular impact on Britain's Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities, which between them saw 17,000 spouses or fiancés enter the UK from their home countries last year, sometimes as a result of arranged marriages.

Categories: Politics, International.

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