The new system will consist of a five-tier framework. For each tier, applicants will need sufficient points to obtain entry or leave to remain in the UK. Points will be awarded to reflect aptitude, experience, age and also the level of need in any given market sector, the intention being to allow the UK to respond flexibly to changes in the labour market. All but the most highly skilled immigrants will require a sponsor (normally their employer) who will be responsible for ensuring that a migrant worker complies with the rules of their entry to the UK and returns home at the end of their stay.
The timetable for implementation is as follows:
- Tier 1 of the system, which caters for highly skilled migrants such as scientists and entrepreneurs, will be launched at the beginning of 2008;
- Tier 2, which will cover skilled workers with a job offer, and Tier 5, for youth mobility and temporary workers, will become operational in the third quarter of 2008; and
- Tier 4, for students, will follow at the beginning of 2009.
The system of sponsorship by employers and educational institutions is also being introduced as part of the new system at the beginning of 2008.
The Government intends that low-skilled jobs should be filled by domestic workers from the expanded EU, wherever possible. A new Migration Advisory Committee will give advice on where in the economy there are labour shortages which can sensibly be filled by migration from outside the European Economic Area (EEA). If and when the Government agrees to establish a scheme for low skilled workers from outside the EEA to come to the UK, it will be set up under Tier 3 of the points based system.