Home Office Limits Visas for Workers from outside Europe ; POLITICS

By Russell, Ben | The Independent (London, England), October 2, 2006 | Go to article overview
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Home Office Limits Visas for Workers from outside Europe ; POLITICS


Russell, Ben, The Independent (London, England)


Work visas allowing thousands of unskilled staff to enter Britain each year are to be abolished.

Two the Home Office admininstered schemes which allow 18,000 low- skilled immigrants from outside Europe to work in Britain will be phased out within a year, Liam Byrne, the Immigration minister, said yesterday. He told employers to recruit staff instead from Britain and the European Union as he announced the clampdown.

Mr Byrne insisted that the British economy had sufficient access to unskilled labour from within the EU and did not need workers from elsewhere. He said: "Our starting point is now that employers should look first to recruit from the UK and this expanded EU before recruiting migrants from outside. But it makes sense anyway, if they have the skills to do them, to give jobs to people who already have the right to come here freely. So in line with this position we will be phasing out schemes for low-skilled migration from outside the EU." But he faced an immedi-ate backlash from campaigners who accused ministers of "fuelling the evils of people trafficking and smuggling" and risking increases in illegal i m igration by closing legitimate routes to the country.

The two schemes to be cut are the agricultural workers' visa scheme, which admits about 16,000 people each year, and a separate scheme for other sectors of the economy which allows 1,800 people to work in Britain each year. Visa schemes for skilled workers will remain.

The announcement came just days before ministers publish plans to place limits on workers from Bulgaria and Romania seeking jobs in Britain when the two countries join the European Union in January next year.

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